Opinion: How do journalists hold government accountable and protect the Constitution in a changing news environment? Nicole Caroll weighs in.
(Editor’s note: Opinion pieces are published for discussion purposes only.)
Constitution Day is observed each Sept. 17 to commemorate the signing of the U.S. Constitution in 1787. At a town hall in Phoenix on Tuesday, USA TODAY Editor-in-Chief Nicole Carroll answered questions about the press’ role in upholding the rule of law. Excerpts from her prepared remarks follow:
Why does a free press matter?
Question: Freedom of the press is something that is expressly protected by our Constitution, and, perhaps as a result, we in our country have not experienced government control of the media. What are some of the ways that freedom of the press and responsible journalism relate to the rule of law today?
Answer: The rule of law says all people and institutions are held accountable under laws that that are widely known, fairly applied and enforced and independently adjudicated. The press is critical to all three:
We report on laws as they are considered and passed. We make sure that those who disagree have a voice.
We investigate to make sure the laws are equally enforced, and speak up when they are not.
We expose those who flout the law, and we serve as a watchdog on the independent judicial process.