press, freedom of the, liberty to print or to otherwise disseminate information, as in print, by broadcasting, or through electronic media, without prior restraints such as licensing requirements or content review and without subsequent punishment for what is said. Freedom of the press, which has been limited not only by governments but at times by churches, is absolute in no country. In modern democracies it is rarely attacked by overt forms of censorship but is often compromised by governments' ability to withhold information, by self-censorship in reaction to various pressures, by selective government "leaking" of information or disinformation, and by other factors.

In the United States, freedom of the press and the broader freedom of speech (see speech, freedom of) are protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution and are considered fundamental rights of the people. In practice, though, some kinds of speech and publication (e.g., obscenity or violations of copyright) are considered outside the amendment's purview, and others, like commercial speech (advertising or product claims), receive a reduced level of protection. In addition, broadcasters are subject to government licensing requirements. The protections to be afforded users of on-line computer services, the Internet, and other new means of publication are the focus of a developing debate; in 1996 a federal district court panel struck down the new Communications Decency Act, holding that Internet communications were entitled to the same degree of protection as printed communications.


Historically, restriction of the press has occurred in two ways. The first may be either censorship or mandatory licensing by the government in advance of publication; the second is punishment for printed material, especially that considered by the government to be seditious libel, i.e., material that may "excite disaffection" against constituted authority (see lese majesty). Censorship of the press began not long after the invention of the printing press. Pope Alexander VI issued (1501) a notice requiring printers to submit copy to church authorities before publication, in order to prevent heresy. Penalties for bypassing the censors included fines and excommunication.

Early English Restrictions and Developments

In England, where the struggle for press freedom first began, the appearance of unauthorized publications resulted in a royal proclamation (1534) requiring prepublication licensing. Stronger restrictive measures were taken by the later Tudor and Stuart monarchs, and censorship came to be applied more to political criticism than religious heresy. John Milton, in his Areopagitica (1644), attacked the licensing law and called on Parliament to suppress offensive publications after their appearance if necessary. Milton's objections to prior restraint eventually became a cornerstone of press freedom, but it was not until 1695 that the licensing and censorship laws were abolished.

Severe restrictions on the press continued, however, in the form of seditious libel laws under which the government was able to arrest and punish any printer who published material in any way critical of the government. There was no clear definition of what constituted seditious libel, and in the 18th cent. the printing of parliamentary debates had to be disguised as debates between classical figures. At this time, both true and false criticism of the government was considered libel. In fact, legal doctrine proclaimed that "the greater the truth the greater the libel." Only in the mid-19th cent. did truth become admissible as a defense in English libel cases.

In the United States

The defense of John Peter Zenger against libel charges in 1735 is often seen as the cornerstone of American press freedom. After the American Revolution, several states provided for freedom of the press, and the First Amendment (1791) to the U.S. Constitution declared that "Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech or of the press." Whether these acts were intended to prohibit prosecution for seditious libel or merely to prohibit prior restraint has been a matter of controversy. In reaction to the Sedition Act (1798), a more libertarian interpretation of the First Amendment became dominant, which saw it as rejecting seditious libel as a crime. The First Amendment was later (beginning in the 1920s) applied to all the states by judicial interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment (1868).

Wartime situations often present challenges to the legal limits of press freedom. What was looked upon as irresponsible reporting during the Civil War led to attempts by civil and military authorities to impose restrictions upon the press. Appeals by the War Department for publishers to voluntarily suppress news that was strategic to the war were, however, largely ineffective. During World War I, near hysteria over the possibility of sabotage led Congress to pass the Espionage Acts (1917) and the Sedition Act (1918). These acts limited freedom of the press to such an extent that not only was censorship exercised against pro-German publications but also against German-language publications and those advocating socialism or pacifism.

In 1931, the Supreme Court, in Near v. Minnesota, for the first time declared almost all forms of prior restraint to be unconstitutional. In World War II the Office of Censorship, under the direction of Byron Price, expanded upon techniques developed by George Creel's Censorship Board of World War I. The new office supervised (1941-45) the most comprehensive censorship in U.S. history. Compliance was voluntary, however, and was based on the office's suggestion to editors on topics to avoid. Because Price and his assistants were respected journalists themselves, newspapers and journals cooperated. Similar cooperation was accorded to the Office of War Information, which controlled the flow of news from government agencies. As a result, the government rarely took punitive action.

After the war, many news organizations undertook campaigns against secrecy in government, maintaining that the withholding of public records threatens freedom of the press. As world tensions heightened during the cold war in the 1950s and 60s, defense officials often protested that the mere absence of war did not justify peacetime openness in the press.

In the late 1960s and early 70s, there were frequent charges and countercharges between journalists and government officials concerning the withholding of information on the Vietnam War by the government. The only recognized grounds for prior restraint, national security, was tested in 1971 when Daniel Ellsberg, a former government employee who believed that information that should be made public was being withheld by the government, released the Pentagon Papers, a collection of classified government documents concerning the Vietnam War. The government tried to block their publication, but the U.S. Supreme Court, in New York Times Co. v. United States (1971), permitted their release.

The First Amendment has not been extended to the gathering as well as the publication of news. The experience of the Vietnam War led the U.S. government to restrict the access of reporters in combat areas in subsequent military encounters. This practice, used during the 1983 invasion of Grenada and the 1991 Persian Gulf War, was bitterly resented by many reporters. In domestic affairs, although a number of states have passed shield laws, which permit journalists to refuse to disclose confidential information and sources to law-enforcement bodies, the U.S. Supreme Court has recognized no unrestricted right of press confidentiality.


See P. Lahav, Press Law in Modern Democracies (1984); W. W. Van Alsytne, Interpretations of the First Amendment (1984); L. Levy, The Emergence of a Free Press (1985).

Printing press that prints on paper passing between a supporting cylinder and a cylinder containing the printing plates. In contrast, the flatbed press has a flat printing surface. The rotary press is used mainly in high-speed, web-fed operations in which the press takes paper from a roll, as in newspaper printing. Many of these large presses not only print as many as four colours but also cut and fold and bind in a cover, all in one continuous automatic process. Paper passes through some presses at nearly 20 mph (30 kph); large presses can print up to 60,000 copies of 128 standard-size pages in an hour. Seealso R. Hoe.

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Machine tool that changes the size or shape of a piece of material, usually sheet metal, by applying pressure to a die in which the workpiece is held. The form and construction of the die determine the shape produced on the workpiece. A punch press has two components: the punch, which is attached to the reciprocating (back and forth, or up and down) ram (plunger) of the machine; and the die, which is clamped onto a bed or anvil whose flat surface is perpendicular to the path of the ram. The punch pushes against the workpiece, which is held in the die. Punch presses are usually driven by electric motors. Seealso hydraulic press.

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or news service or wire service

Organization that gathers, writes, and distributes news to newspapers, periodicals, radio and television broadcasters, government agencies, and other users. It does not publish news itself but supplies news to subscribers, who, by sharing costs, obtain services they could not otherwise afford. All the mass media depend on agencies for the bulk of the news they carry. Some agencies focus on special subjects or on a local area or nation. Many news agencies are cooperatives, with members providing news from their area to a pool for general use. The largest news agencies are United Press International, Associated Press, Reuters, and Agence France-Presse.

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In newspaper publishing, the use of lurid features and sensationalized news in newspaper publishing to attract readers and increase circulation. The phrase was coined in the 1890s to describe tactics employed in the furious competition between two New York papers, Joseph Pulitzer's World and William Randolph Hearst's Journal. When Hearst hired away from Pulitzer a cartoonist who had drawn the immensely popular comic strip “The Yellow Kid,” another cartoonist was hired to draw the comic for the World; the rivalry excited so much attention that the competition was dubbed yellow journalism. Techniques of the period that became permanent features of U.S. journalism include banner headlines, coloured comics, and copious illustrations.

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Collection, preparation, and distribution of news and related commentary and feature materials through media such as pamphlets, newsletters, newspapers, magazines, radio, film, television, and books. The term was originally applied to the reportage of current events in printed form, specifically newspapers, but in the late 20th century it came to include electronic media as well. It is sometimes used to refer to writing characterized by a direct presentation of facts or description of events without an attempt at interpretation. Colleges and universities confer degrees in journalism and sponsor research in related fields such as media studies and journalism ethics.

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Machine consisting of a cylinder fitted with a piston (see piston and cylinder) that uses liquid under pressure to exert a compressive force upon a stationary anvil or baseplate. The liquid is forced into the cylinder by a pump. The hydraulic press is widely used in industry for forming metals and for other tasks where a large force is required. It is manufactured in a wide variety of styles and sizes and in capacities ranging from 1 ton (0.9 metric ton) or less to 10,000 tons (9,000 metric tons) or more. Seealso punch press.

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or drilling machine

Machine tool for producing holes in hard substances. The drill is held in a rotating spindle and is fed into the workpiece, which is usually clamped in a vise supported on a table. The drill may be gripped in a chuck with three jaws that move radially in unison, or it may have a tapered shank that fits into a tapered hole in the spindle. Means are provided for varying the spindle speed and (on some machines) for automatically feeding the drill into the workpiece. Seealso boring machine.

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Cooperative news agency, the oldest and largest in the U.S. and long the largest in the world. Its beginnings trace to 1848, when six New York City newspapers pooled their efforts to finance a telegraphic relay of foreign news brought by ships to Boston. In 1892 the modern AP was set up under the laws of Illinois; several years later it moved to New York. Its restrictive controls on new memberships were ended with federal antitrust prosecution in the 1940s. AP was the first agency to devote a news wire to sports coverage (1946), and it distributes business news through a partnership with Dow Jones & Co., Inc. More than 15,000 organizations worldwide obtain news, photographs, and illustrations from the agency. The AP Stylebook has become a standard in many journalistic organizations.

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Press may refer to:

In publishing:

In industry and home economics:

  • Machine press, a machine that shapes material by the application of pressure
  • Hydraulic press, a machine press operating by hydraulic pressure
  • Shop press, a specialized auto-shop hydraulic press used to insert and remove materials from tubes and collars, particularly bearings and bushings
  • Flypress, a machine that cuts material by pressing with a sharp edged mold or tool
  • Linen-press, a cabinet for storing household textiles and clothing.
  • Trouser press, an appliance to remove wrinkles from trousers
  • RAM press, a patented machine used to press clay in the pottery business
  • Pressing or ironing, the process of pressing wrinkles out of (or into) clothes
  • A method of straightening curly hair, primarily used by African-Americans, that uses a hot comb

In food preparation:

  • French press, a device for coffee preparation
  • Fruit press, a press used to extract juice from grapes and apples
  • Garlic press, a device to crush garlic cloves for cooking.
  • Ram press (food), a device used to extract juice from fruits, like grapes, apples and oil from crushed oil seeds

In music:

In sports:

  • Clean and press, a weight-training exercise, and one of the three lifts contested in the sport of weightlifting until 1972
  • Military press, a weight-training exercise

In military:

  • Impressment, a method of involuntary recruitment by a Navy department

See also

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