Relationship Between Law and Journalism

Topics: Newspaper, Judge, Lawyer Pages: 6 (2171 words) Published: August 27, 2011


The establishment of justice does not mean merely the establishment of courts or the machinery for the enforcement of law. It means something far more. It means the establishment of just relations between man and man, between man and his own government, between man, the individual and society. It means the creation of a social state that deals justly with every man and every interest of man. This may not be done by the profession of law alone. To establish justice, the cooperation of the members of other professions and of those engaged in other occupations is necessary. Most important, it is the cooperation of those engaged in the profession of journalism. For journalism, though not the only medium of expression of public opinion, is the chief medium for such expression, and public opinion finally determines the establishment of justice. The relation, therefore, between law and journalism should be cooperative, not contradictory; complementary, not conflicting. The lawyer is the sworn officer of the court unto society’s welfare; the journalist is the unsworn officer of society unto the common good. Both law and journalism, in their last and final analysis, are professions of public service. There is no other adequate reason for their existence in a social state. Two theories of journalism are held by reputable and high-minded journalists. One theory is that the newspaper, foremost exponent of journalism, has merely the duty to record the news, let its interpretation and its consequences be what they may. The other theory is that with news presentation there should be news interpretation and comment. Either theory makes of the newspaper, in different degree, an instrument for the establishment of justice or injustice. In the one case a newspaper merely furnishes an abstract of the record, and in the other case it becomes advocate and judge.A newspaper should not content itself with merely printing the news, but in the interest of society, it should be an attorney for the people in a real and vital sense. It may not be such an attorney except it interprets and comments upon the news. In this way, it seems a newspaper best justifies the tacit franchise given to it by the public for the public good. Nor does the lawyer do his full duty to his client when he leaves unreckoned and uncared for the interests of society. The lawyer should in a very real and vital sense consider society’s welfare. Criticisms many and various are made upon the courts and lawyer and the machinery set up to establish, in legal ways, justice. All considered criticisms result from a feeling that neither law nor journalism is justifying itself, as it might do, in its relation to present day society. We are told, and with considerable truth, that we have a disorganized judicial system without unity and without adequate effectiveness. Our federal court system lacks the strength and coherence of an organized judiciary. The same is true of our state systems. Frequently judges are not selected for the judicial attainments, but rather for their political strength and affiliations. In many instances judicial qualities have not been the controlling cause in the selection of judges. Until recently, no serious attempt has been made to establish a better administrative organization of courts, and our machinery of the law.The Bar is criticized in this changing age, for its commercialism, and judges and lawyers for venality. The ineffectiveness of the criminal law, largely made by lawyers, is another frequent cause for criticism. Lawyers are accused, and sometimes rightfully, of defeating the ends of justice for the sake of the fees. Judges are accused of incurring personal favor by publicity, of shading their opinions in other than the public interest. While there is truth in all these charges as to some individuals and some systems. Criticism is more properly directed against antiquated systems and...
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