Journalism is no longer just a profession of information transmission, but it is also said to be a fourth estate next to the three branches of government: legislative, executive and judicial. It is an essential pillar within the system of the modern democratic state. It is illogical and not possible to have a modern democratic state without strong, independent free press.
The state of the press is a measure of the political, legal and social status of the State; The extent to which the press is in all its types and directions, its impact and its interaction with the life of the citizen reflect the shape of the system of government, the legal situation of the country and its proximity to and distance from the International Bill of Human Rights.
Besides being an important indicator; it is an effective and efficient means of building alongside other means that cannot be dispensed to build any state on participatory foundations. Just like in any industrial process, you need supervision to evaluate the production line, and then an audit to evaluate the product after its completion; this is what the free press is doing in the process of nation building. Through the press, the government is evaluated and monitored through the eyes of the entire population. Through the press, the voice of citizens reaches the government.
If we talk about democracy, then we must talk about the free press. It is impossible to have a true democracy without a free press. True democracy is a way of life resulting from an accumulation of awareness, and free independent press is one of the most important generator of this awareness.
Thus, any regime that fights a free, independent press is definitely a corrupt, undemocratic regime that is far from the international consensus on human rights and the foundations of citizenship, despite its claims otherwise.
There is also an important axis that cannot be ignored when talking about the press, which is the determinants and regulations of freedom that any media outlet should have. Where are the lines in which the freedom of the press stops? This is a fundamental question that has been researched, but frankly the limits of that freedom are still unclear. There is a large grey area.
Determining what is and what is not freedom of expression is a thorny issue, despite its clarity in theory , “almost” … with thousands of lines under almost. There are institutions and conferences that have tried to answer this question in more than one way, and many thinkers and philosophers preceded all these attempts. However, the application of this concept to reality is complicated, overlapping and difficult to define. As it goes into a bigger cause in what is good and evil, right and wrong. Sometimes, where you stand sets the standard of good and evil, and this, is relative.
If we use the argument that freedom of expression stops when the result of speech is violence, defiance, subversion of state institutions, bloodshed! Isn’t this the same argument used by authoritarian regimes that fight freedom of the press and freedom of expression in general, when they suppress critical reformist voices that, in their view, may result in violence, defiance, subversion of State institutions and bloodshed?!
Likewise, we cannot go beyond the issue of freedom of the press without referring to the position of religion, traditions and societal norms in this freedom. Where should this freedom stop when confronted with religion? Where should this freedom stop when criticizing the traditions and customs of a society? Does criticism of religion fall under the forms of freedom of the press? And if the answer is “no,” isn’t this sanctity unilateral and one-sided, which is the sanctifier? Isn’t “the sacred in itself is not sacred, but the sanctified is the one who creates this sacredness with the passing of time, and the greater the gap, the greater the aura of sanctity. Don’t the followers inherit the sacred, sanctify the legacy, and bequeath the sacred, as absolute truths”? (Al-Fazari, Uncertainty, p.217)
The lack of clarity in the space of freedom in which any press institution must move, in addition to the citizen journalist who has become an integral part of the world of journalism, is not an excuse for the belief in the importance of journalism. It is not an excuse for providing a legally safe journalistic environment. Not an excuse to fight free independent press; there are many postulates, necessities and needs in the formation of any modern democratic state; in the state of citizenship, it can be measured and built upon, and it does not prevent its development and discussion around it.