The public's right to know: A dangerous notion

Journal of Mass Media Ethics 19 (1):46 – 55 (2004)
As the basis for federal and state freedom of information laws, the legal idea of a public right to know has been a blessing. As the often-invoked moral justification for the press's right to publish, however, it is dangerous, because an unfettered right to know would result in restrictions on the press's right to determine what to publish. By acknowledging their moral responsibility to provide audiences with information based on their need to know, journalists can avoid the hazards of arguing that an unrestricted public right to know is the foundation of press freedom.
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