franklin

America’s fascination with the media began in the 16th century when the constitution unlocked the gates to the freedom of the press. The Constitution contains the first amendment which guarantees the freedom to exercise religion, freedom of speech, and most importantly the freedom of the press. A person who contributed to the growth of the eighteenth century press was Benjamin Franklin who overcame opposition. Benjamin Franklin’s dedication to printing newspapers led to the ratification of the Bill of Rights which guaranteed freedom of the press. This action opened the door to the influx of mass media. On November 3, 1733, John Peter Zenger first published the New York Weekly Journal which included articles which exposed William Cosby’s, governor of New York at the time, secret about a civil suit involving money and property. Zenger was put in prison because he apparently libeled the government. Zenger was later acquitted because the jury found the articles about Cosby to be true and therefore not libelous. The right to criticize the government in the media was the effect of the jury’s decision. This instance shaped the future of the United States press in a way such that the government formed resentment against the print media.

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