Freedom of expression and public interest in media
Freedom of expression and
public interest in media
Irena Lovrenčič Držanič
Freedom of expression
Freedom of religion
Marketplace of ideas
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes
freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart
information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
Task: What does it mean to have the right to your own opinion and the right to
express it? What is the difference between these rights?
Categories of Expression
• political expression: legitimate, robust
comment on public figures
• artistic expression: creative writing,
visual art, music, theatre and dance,
contribute ‘to the exchange of ideas
and opinions which is essential for a
Relation to other rights
• Harm principle or offense principle hate
• Legal sanction, social disapproving or both
• Closely related to other rights and may be
limited when conflicting with other rights.
• Media: freedom of expression for everyone.
• Freedom of the press ≠ freedom of speech
freedom of the press may constrain freedom of
speech (media suppresses information or
diversity of voices presented)
• Principle "no money, no voice"
“Anything that can hurt the convictions of someone
else, in particular religious convictions, should be
– Jacques Chirac, French president in 2006
Task: Do you agree? What do you think, where are the limits of free speech?
• any speech, gesture or display which is forbidden because it may incite violence
or prejudicial action against or by a protected individual or group, or because it
intimidates a protected individual or group
Task: When does freedom of expression become hate speech?
Examples: Charlie Hebdo
"It's hard to be
loved by idiots"
"The Father, The
Son, and The Holy
white at last."
• main function of media
• interest about topics that are relevant for a majority of
• not a synonym for the interest of public, because the
last is driven by profit and audience maximization
• When media follow public interest, they work as the
The Fourth Estate
• fourth branch of government monitor the political process
• guardians of democracy, defenders of the public interest
• media merely entertain and turn the potential participants in
the public sphere into passive consumers
• the power to set a media agenda, to focus public attention on
a few key public issues
How Media Construct Public Opinion -
• Watchdogs: reveal abuses of state authorities and defend the democratic rights
Task: What happens when media work as the fourth estate and publish information
about government’s wrongdoing?
The Fifth Estate
• media genres outside the mainstream media (bloggers,
independent journalists, social media users and hacktivists)
• only a few blogs have a real power to influence the policy-