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Local media leaders talk First Amendment

UNC will celebrate its third annual First Amendment Day on Tuesday, Sept. 27, but its importance extends outside the campus.

Local media leaders said the constitution’s grant of press freedom is important to their everyday lives and work — and it is important for residents who hope to stay free and informed in Chapel Hill to remember their rights.

“It’s one of the most important freedoms we have here in the U.S., and I think it’s important that we remind ourselves of that,” said Susan Dickson, editor of the Carrboro Citizen.

Chapel Hill News

Mark Schultz, editor-in-chief of Chapel Hill News, said the day stands to remind the public about their right to information.

“The media is just an extension of the public,” he said. “It’s just not important to the press. It’s important to all people.”

He said remembering the rights the First Amendment grants the media and the public is important.

“It’s always a good idea to test press laws and to remind ourselves what is public and what readers and the public have a right to say,” Shultz said.

Carrboro Citizen

Dickson said that the First Amendment enables the press to report fairly and accurately.

“The First Amendment is really what upholds our power to do what we do every day,” Dickson said.

She explained that though some might criticize a newspaper’s reporting, First Amendment rights protect media outlets from censorship and allow them to share controversial ideas.

She said that without the First Amendment, people would be afraid to say what they truly thought because they could face persecution.

“The public would suffer as a result,” she said. “I think it’s important to remember the first amendment for those reasons.”

On the blogs

Ruby Sinreich, founder and editor of local blog OrangePolitics, said she appreciates her right to publish her ideas as an activist and blogger.

Sinreich’s liberal-leaning blog features posts from Sinreich, town officials and residents. It includes opinion and news pieces.

First Amendment protection has been extended to Internet writers and bloggers since 1997. Internet publishers now receive the highest protection of speech under court precedent.

“Sometimes I take it for granted, but our entire Bill of Rights is important,” she said. “Freedom of speech is one of the foundations of our democracy.”

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