There are three main methods the press utilizes to provide newsworthy information.

  1. Printed Press
  2. Broadcasting
  3. Internet

Beginning with Near v. Minnesota, the Supreme Court has protected the written press from government regulation. The court determined in Near that Congress can make no law to restrain the press from printing material. There were only a few exceptions to this rule.

However, with radio and television broadcasting growth, the court allowed the government to regulate some of the broadcasted material. There were two reasons the court found to control broadcasting.

  1. There were a limited number of stations. Thus, Congress ensured that all political views were represented by requiring those who acquired a license to broadcast to schedule a time to discuss all political preferences.
  2. Broadcast media differs from print media because it can more easily invade the home. Additionally, broadcast media is more readily available to children. Thus, the government could control the use of inappropriate language for broadcast media.

But how should the court react to the press on the internet? Preliminary cases lean towards treating the internet like the printed press. Should they treat it more like print media or broadcast media? How much regulation, if any, should the government be allowed to put on internet news outlets?

The Debate

We present you with a debate. Like an oral debate, each side is given a fair opportunity to put forth an argument, defend the position, and cross-examine the opponent’s argument. Both sides will be speaking directly to you, the audience, to persuade you that their argument is correct.

So, which method is correct? You decide.

Against Internet Regulation Of The Press – Opening Arguments

Thank you for participating in this debate. Our founding fathers knew the importance of free speech. They also understood that a free press was necessary to hold the government and the people accountable. This principle was such a sound belief that it was not challenged until the 1930s. Since then, the courts have repeatedly protected the press from government regulation.

However, technology has advanced greatly since the time of the founders. Media outlets can now pass on information through several means. With the development of radio and television broadcasting, the government has been allowed to regulate some aspects of the press.

Now we are faced with an ever-growing technology, the internet. Should the government be allowed to regulate the press who seek to pass the information on through the internet? We hold that they should not. Why?

Media outlets use the internet much like they would use print. However, printed publications are becoming rarer. With the growth of the internet, many individuals go online to find trusted news sources. Media outlets must accommodate to meet the needs of consumers. As a result, most media material is published online instead of printed.

Additionally, these outlets do not invade the privacy of readers’ families because they must actively search for content from news providers. Any obscene or inappropriate material found in the press is not likely to find its way to innocent children.

For these reasons, we believe online media should be treated as printed media. Thus, the online press affords high constitutional protection.

For Internet Regulation Of The Press – Cross-Examination

The opening argument provided by those against regulating the press on the internet has a major flaw. Their argument suggests the only press found on the internet is written press. However, this is not true. Online media does not focus only on written articles. Nearly every news outlet also broadcasts. Additionally, for many outlets, broadcasting is the main way they release the news. Therefore, the press on the internet should be regarded as broadcast media and regulated accordingly.

For Internet Regulation Of The Press – Opening Arguments

In 1949, the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) issued a policy called the “fairness doctrine.” The purpose was to require broadcast license holders to present public controversial issues and do so honestly and fairly. Well, the policy was controversial. Red Lion Broadcasting challenged the policy saying it violated the free press clause of the First Amendment. Despite the regulation on the press, the courts upheld the doctrine.

Although the founders protected the press, this case shows that the press is not immune to government regulation. Although the printed press receives higher Constitutional protection, broadcast media does not. We argue that the internet functions similarly to broadcast media. Thus, the internet can and should be subject to some governmental regulations.

How is the online press similar to broadcasting? Media outlets on the internet media often share and spread vocalized arguments. Vocal arguments are much more likely to penetrate the privacy of the home easier than written arguments. Reach through the internet also expands much further than printed. As a result, many individuals may find unwanted and inappropriate material.

Against Internet Regulation Of The Press – Cross-Examination

Although there are some similarities between broadcast and internet media, there are some key differences. For instance, the government first regulated broadcast media because there was a limited number of stations and thus they could only offer a limited number of licenses. The internet has a seemingly infinite number of locations material can be placed.

Another key difference is that “broadcasted” media shared online has usually already been broadcasted to the public. Thus, the broadcasted media that is shared online should have already been regulated following FCC guidelines. There is no further need to regulate access to the internet.

For Internet Regulation Of The Press – Closing Statement

To summarize our position, the press on the internet should be regulated because many outlets can provide false or inappropriate content that could affect the privacy of individuals. Government regulation may be justified because the press broadcast their content online. 

Against Internet Regulation Of The Press – Closing Statement

We argue that online media is more similar to printed press than the broadcasted press. Consequently, media on the internet can receive the same high level of Constitutional protection afforded to the printed press. Thus, the press on the internet should not be regulated by the government.

Thank you for participating in the debate.

Comment below to let us know what you think.

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Categories: Two Man Congress

Will Laursen

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