In common everyday discussions this paper and some its members and staff ha’ve been asked if what is our opinion on whether or not the press (media) if free, dynamic, and vibrant on Guam. Can a simple and humble Guamanian speak his mind and if need be, criticize the powers that be?
Often, our answer is, “we don’t now,” which we follow up with a comment or question that goes this way. “Based on our experience with the governor’s complex at Adelup wherein this paper was rudely banned from being distributed there, you tell us if the press is free, dynamic, and vibrant on Guam?” To date, despite our earlier email request to be provided with the legal basis for us to be banned for distribution at Adelup, we still have not been provided with our request. At any rate, who are we to insist on getting this paper distributed over there? Why bother to add to their trash?
However, on a final note, before we move on to other more important issues like finance, land acquisition, government debt, alleged corrupt shady deals and others, we are hoping that the concerned officer at Adelup whose name we need not mention can kindly e-mail to us a copy of the legal basis for forbidding us to distribute newspaper copies at Adelup.
To the question above on the following adjectives, dynamic is defined as characterized by constant change, activity, or progress; whereas vibrant is defined as full of energy and enthusiasm. Free on the other hand means not subject to arbitrary interference by a government.
Now, let’s put things in perspective. Press freedom certainly includes the whole news gathering and delivery mechanism intended for the market which is every Tom, Dick, Harry, and Jane. Perhaps the question often asked to us is too technical and would need a lengthy verbose to dissect and answer. Why don’t we instead try to simplify matters? Cut to the chase and get to the point. The way we see things and the question to this could be, are the Guamanians being provided with factual, in depth, transparent information more so when the news concerns governance and government affairs?
In a nutshell, that is the question we prefer to be asked. Unfortunately, at this point, we are not yet competent enough to answer it, but instead we throw the question to the Guamanians, let it sink in and you tell us.
While at the subject of press freedom, allow us to leave you with the following wise words:
• The administration of government has become more complex, the opportunities for malfeasance and corruption have multiplied, crime has grown to most serious proportions, and the danger of its protection by unfaithful officials and of the impairment of the fundamental security of life and property by criminal alliances and official neglect, emphasizes the primary need of a vigilant and courageous press, especially in great cities./Charles Evans Hughes, (Near v. Minnesota, 1931).
• Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost./Thomas Jefferson, letter to Dr. James Currie (28 January 1786) Lipscomb & Bergh 18:ii.
• The freedom of speech and of the press, which are secured by the First Amendment against abridgment by the United States, are among the fundamental personal rights and liberties which are secured to all persons by the Fourteenth Amendment against abridgment by a state. The safeguarding of these rights to the ends that men may speak as they think on matters vital to them and that falsehoods may be exposed through the processes of education and discussion is essential to free government. Those who won our independence had confidence in the power of free and fearless reasoning and communication of ideas to discover and spread political and economic truth./Frank Murphy (1940). Thornhill v. Alabama. Supreme Court of the United States. pp. 310 U.S. 88, 95.