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GUARDIANS OF LIBERTY by Linda Barrett Osborne Kirkus Star


Freedom of the Press and the Nature of News

by Linda Barrett Osborne

Pub Date: Aug. 18th, 2020
ISBN: 978-1-4197-3689-6
Publisher: Abrams

“Knowing the story of why freedom of the press was important to the founding fathers…and how it has stayed a strong principle in American law and culture can help us understand its value today.”

This efficient text (an introduction and nine short chapters, buttressed by a timeline) offers an excellent foray into the hows and whys of U.S. press freedom, beginning just prior to nationhood. The accessible, mostly chronological text is full of short quotations from both primary and secondary sources. It includes excellent definitions, informative sidebars, and archival photographs. The ebb and flow of press freedoms over the course of the country’s history are combined with succinct history of the means of communication, from printing on paper all the way through to today’s social media. Careful scholarship links big questions about balancing transparency and national security to wartime reporting, the Pentagon Papers, Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, and more. The text warns about today’s citizens’ reading and listening only to outlets that support their own views and how that endangers democracy. President Donald Trump’s media provocations are discussed along with the murder of Jamal Khashoggi and the work of Reporters Without Borders. Two cases involving high schoolers’ freedoms are explored. A particularly noteworthy sidebar offers guidance on how readers can determine the accuracy of their news. For optimal use, readers should first have a rudimentary understanding of U.S. civics, which perhaps makes it better suited to middle and high school than elementary readers.

Timely, essential reading.

(index, select bibliography) (Nonfiction. 12-16)