Freedom of speech is often used (and misused) as an umbrella term for many different types of “rights”. Freedom of the press is however legitimately and closely linked to the principle of Free Speech, as it protects the right to obtain and publish information or opinions in the form of news, books, publications, magazines, films, television, radio etc. without the risk of censorship or punishment.
We deem freedom of the press to be important because it is the ultimate source of information for citizens, and ideally it would remain independent from the government to maintain its value as a public service. While freedom of press is often abused (tabloids for example), it is key to the preservation of a functioning democracy. One would hope that, as a democratic society, the United States would have a fairly open marketplace of ideas. However it is seems clear that this is not a fully democratic society and it’s marketplace of ideas is not a fully open and accessible one.
The intermixing of corporate power and politics makes it difficult for the ordinary citizen to have a say in the degree to which our speech is protected, and if you think that you have nothing to do with the press, you might want to think again. An individual’s freedom of expression is closely linked to the freedom of the press because the extent to which one can obtain ideology and thus impart it “freely” is dependent on what information is actually available and how easily it is made so.
It would be wrong to think of the two freedoms as separate things because they are in fact inseparable. There is obviously an entire different argument to be made out of all the shady free press claims used to publish libel, slander, obscene and indecent information. However, if we agree that one of the best ways to progress a society’s collective ideological will is through a marketplace of ideas willing to accept dissent, and if we care about our right to free speech, then we should have deep consideration for the future of our freedom of press.