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Home arrow Historical arrow Peninsular Notes arrow Freedom of the press



Freedom of the press Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Monday, 17 September 2012

In these days of press inquiries, injunctions and invasions, it is perhaps wise to remind ourselves of the value of freedom of the press and also that this principle has been debated for as long as "The Press" has existed.

Here is an example (although by no means contemporaneous) of one opinion "at the time of the lines".

"Few can tell the harm that was done during this war by newspaper reports and extracts from the letters of officers from Lisbon and elsewhere, lingerers about the hospitals and depots, men ignorant and discontented, who wrote all kind of trash, which by force of transit across the waves was transformed into "important intelligence."press freedomLord Wellington, in writing on this subject to his brother the Minister in Spain, Mr. Henry Wellesley, from Pero Negro, says, "The freedom of the Press is undoubtedly a benefit, and it is difficult possibly to fix the limits beyond which it shall not go. But if the benefit consists in the information which the Press conveys to the nation and the world in general, it appears to be necessary that the information should be founded in fact, and that discussions upon the conduct of military operations and the characters of officers who carry them on, should be founded on real knowledge of events, of the true state of affairs, of the character of the troops, and above all of the topography of the country which may be the seat of the operations." Every Englishman admires and would support the freedom of the Press; but as discretion is the better part of valour, so ought it to be of the power of journalism, as there is no end to the mischief that may be done for five-pence. The enemy frequently gained intelligence of importance to them through our papers, of which otherwise they would have been wholly ignorant; and at one time Lord Wellington even, in a despatch to Lord Liverpool, expressed a hope that his own despatches would not, on this account, be fully published."

LEAVES FROM THE DIARY of AN OFFICER OF THE GUARDS.

London, Chapman & Hall, 1854, p38-39
(see http://www.archive.org/details/leavesfromdiaryoOOcowe.pdf )

Times masthead 1808

 
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