Freedom of the press is a topic that is both timely and perennial as a subject for classroom activities. Whether in language arts, reading, or social studies class, a discussion of freedom of the press can lead into all kinds of great reading and writing lessons as well as friendly debates!
As I was collecting ideas for my new freedom of the press reading materials, I came across a variety of good quotes on the subject. So today I’m sharing a few of my favorites. Whether you like to discuss one as an introduction to a related reading selection or use one or more for follow-up lessons, a collection of good quotes is a useful item for a teacher to have on hand. Here are the quotes:
Censoring the Press
- “No government ought to be without censors; and where the press is free no one ever will.” Thomas Jefferson
A Foundation of our Democracy
- “Freedom of speech is a principal pillar of a free government;” Benjamin Franklin
The Foundation of Other Freedoms
- “Freedom of conscience, of education, or speech, of assembly are among the very fundamentals of democracy and all of them would be nullified should freedom of the press ever be successfully challenged.” Franklin D. Roosevelt
- “When, in a free society, the press is criticized for negativity, that almost always means it has dared to question the policies of the party in power. ‘Patriotism,’ Samuel Johnson said, ‘is the last refuge of a scoundrel.’ He could have been speaking of those who use it to shield themselves from dissent.” Roger Ebert (Movie Critic)
A Safety Valve
- “The First Amendment is the safety valve of our democracy,” Trevor Timm (Freedom of the Press Foundation)
- “A free press is the unsleeping guardian of every other right that free men prize; it is the most dangerous foe of tyranny.” Winston Churchill
Writing Under a Pseudonym
- “Some of the most important voices before and during the American Revolution were anonymous pamphleteers who were writing under pseudonyms, talking about the crimes of the British government,” Trevor Timm
Losing Freedom of the Press
- “A freedom given up is not so easily regained.” Rivera Sun (writer)
I found these quotes at online sources including the Saturday Evening Post, Goodreads, and IdeasTED. At each one of these you can find lots of good choices in case you are looking for more!
I like the idea of using quotes as part of student writing activities, such as using a quote for a writing prompt for opinion writing or for research leading into informative writing. Another idea is using one quote for a quick lesson on using quotations to add specificity to their own writing – the lesson might include quick research to verify the quote, using quotation marks correctly and identifying the speaker, and citing a source.
A two-side debate or an informal classroom discussion are other ideas for using quotes – this time to improve oral language and thinking skills.
And for reading, quotes are great for introducing a new selection or group of related readings such as non-fiction historical accounts, current events topics, or even short stories or novels with a related theme.
As I mentioned, I collected these quotes while working on a new reading resource, Close Reading – Freedom of the Press. This is a collection of five one-page informational text articles with all of the activities needed for a full three readings of each one: text based questions and other activities such as graphic organizers for each of three readings. The activities for the first reading focus on main ideas and details; the second on craft, structure, and vocabulary; and the third on integrating knowledge and ideas.
The five articles are:
1. The First Amendment
2. Investigative Journalism
3. Fake News
4. Newspapers from the Start
5. What Should a Journalist Do? (Journalism Ethics)
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