The Norman Transcript

Columns

October 24, 2013

Celebrating newspapers’ role in free speech

NORMAN — Where would we be as a nation without the freedom of speech?

After all, according to the annual State of the First Amendment survey, it is by far America’s favorite freedom and our most important right. In that survey, 47 percent voted for free speech, compared to 10 percent for the next closest right, freedom of religion. It is only appropriate that we dedicate a week to celebrating free speech.

The freedom to express ourselves and speak our minds is an inextricable part of a strong democracy. When you have a government directed by its citizens, it is critical that those citizens be engaged and informed. Indeed, our founding fathers recognized the critical need for the free flow of information.

It is equally important that citizens have the freedom and the avenue to challenge the government and its representatives, discuss key issues, and be absolutely assured that their voices are heard.

Newspapers provide that avenue and self-expression through guest opinion pieces and letters to the editor. We recognize the importance of publishing a diversity of viewpoints, as we only grow as a country and effectively address difficult issues if a variety of expertise, facts and opinions are shared.

Today, social media has been heralded as one of the greatest platforms for free speech and self-expression. Anyone can post whatever they want at their convenience, and it lives online for the whole world to see.

But when it comes to important matters, where citizens want to make sure that their thoughts and expertise are considered by the public and leaders alike, newspapers provide the platform to reach their community and influence their leaders.

We see this again and again, most recently when Vladimir Putin and John McCain spoke directly to Americans and Russians by going straight to newspapers. As they demonstrated, it’s an effective strategy to capture attention and state your position — whether you are a global leader or a small-town worker.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Columns
  • Norman Forward builds momentum

    The quiet campaign to build momentum for a citywide public works project is beginning to attract some attention....

    July 20, 2014

  • Tax those trees out of here

    I read your editorial “Pesky red cedars” in the Norman Transcript of Tuesday, July 15, 2014. I have attended two meetings where the problem of the eastern red cedar trees was discussed. Because of the drought conditions in Oklahoma, we ...

    July 20, 2014

  • Make gun safety a health issue

    Quick, are you more likely to die by a bullet or in a car crash? Common sense would seem to suggest the latter. Cars are everywhere. We are an auto-obsessed nation. To be American is to drive — everywhere. Teenagers itch to get behind the ...

    July 20, 2014

  • They just want to be free ... maybe

    Massoud Barzani, president of Iraq’s semiautonomous Kurdistan region, rattled many cages this month when he announced in parliament that the KRG would be moving ahead soon on a referendum on independence from Iraq. If Kurdistan goes ahead ...

    July 20, 2014

  • Congress must accelerate solutions

    Congress has roused itself, at the last minute, and now is scrambling to save the Highway Trust Fund. Better late than never. Better still will be if lawmakers agree to come up with the money to prevent the fund from becoming insolvent. ...

    July 20, 2014

  • The heavy burden of college aid

    Return on investment is a clear measure of what you get for your money. Incredibly, the federal government doesn’t apply that simple concept to the $137 billion a year it spends on college financial aid....

    July 19, 2014

  • James bears weight of Cav’s dreams

    LeBron James has done it all on a basketball court. He’s a great scorer, rugged defender, proven big-play leader and champion. But that might not be enough in Cleveland, where he’ll also need the powers of Merlin the Magician....

    July 17, 2014

  • Steve Boaz.jpg Breathing Rhythm Studio a center for creativity

    Recording engineer Steve Boaz has brought his musical ambitions to fulfillment in a downtown Norman studio.

    July 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Matt Lauer is so last century

    How about we rename “The Today Show” the “Yesterday Show” since host Matt Lauer asks questions from 1953? Isn’t what Lauer asked GM CEO Mary Barra about whether she’ll do “well” at being simultaneously an executive and a mom about, oh, 30 ...

    July 14, 2014

  • Religion’s role shrinking

    Surveying the response to last month’s Hobby Lobby decision, I was struck by a comment from progressive Massachusetts senator and possible Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren....

    July 12, 2014