Just started reading Nobel Prize-winning author Amartya Sen’s “The Idea of Justice.” What an incredible thinker.
In a chapter entitled “Democracy as Public Opinion,” he outlines four reasons to embrace a free press in any society.
1) “The first — and perhaps the most elementary — connection concerns the direct contribution of free speech in general and press freedom in particular to the quality of our lives.” Media freedom allows us to satisfy the innate desire to communicate with each other and receive information.
2) “The press has a major informational role in disseminating knowledge and allowing critical scrutiny.” The informational function of the press leads to scientific advancements and cultural innovations.
3) “Media freedom has an important protective function in giving voice to the neglected and the disadvantaged, which can greatly contribute to human security.” Since leaders can be insulated from realities of day-to-day living, a free press sheds light on issues that otherwise could go unnoticed.
4) “Informed and unregimented formulation of values requires openness of communication and argument.” The media can elevate issues up to the sphere of public discussion and help with the identification and resolution of issues.
Good stuff. You can read a eight-page excerpt of his book here.