War and Press Freedom

War and Press Freedom : The Problem of Prerogative Power

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War and Press Freedom: The Problem of Prerogative Power is a groundbreaking and provocative study of one of the most perplexing civil liberties issues in American history: What authority does or should the government have to control press coverage and commentary in wartime? First Amendment scholar Jeffery A. Smith shows convincingly that no such extraordinary power exists under the Constitution, and that officials have had to rely on claiming the existence of an autocratic "higher law" of survival. Smith carefully surveys the development of statutory restrictions and military regulations for the news media from the ratification of the Bill of Rights in 1791 through the Gulf War of 1991. He concludes that the armed forces can justify refusal to divulge a narrow range of defense secrets, but that imposing other restrictions is unwise, unnecessary, and unconstitutional. In any event, as electronic communication becomes almost impossible to constrain, soldiers and journalists must learn how to respect each other's obligations in a democratic system.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 320 pages
  • 161 x 235.7 x 27.7mm | 766.38g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0195099451
  • 9780195099454

Review quote

"[Smith] has put together an informed, detailed, and delightful analysis of the gradual erosion of a free press...Smith's strength in this volume is his relentless use of historical example to demonstrate a pervasive erosion of constitutional principle...[Smith] has amassed a powerful argument that concessions to national security lead to a withering of freedom and the emergence of an autocratic secretive' government."--The Law and Politics Book Review"Smith, a leading scholar of the colonial press and law, uses the legal precedent and the founders' intentions as a backdrop to his thoroughly researched and eloquently argued polemic on the excesses of censorship during times of war."--American Historical Review"[Smith] has given us a significant piece of research...[T]he book is worth using in courses that examine the issues of press and givernment in wartime."--Journalism and Mass Communication Educator"War and Press Freedom, a meticulously researched book, is a significant addition to the literature on press freedom. Its comprehensive, in-depth analysis touches on nearly all of the controversies undergirding the proper balancing of the values of press freedom with the government's interest in meeting wartime security needs...[A] valuable text for American press history...[T]he book will be particularly useful to those who have a sustained interest in the practical meaning of press freedom in the United States."--Journalism History"[Smith] makes his arguments crisply and in depth, especially in his centerpiece chapter on the bureaucratization of censorship, covering this past century's wars."--Columbia Journalism Review"Smith's history of the conflict between secrecy and openness, War and Press Freedom, is both diagnostic and prescriptive...[T]he book is excellent and should be a part of any history seminar on wartime American journalism."--Newspaper Research Journal"[T]he most exhaustive study to date of the wartime clash between openness and secrecy...[T]his book will be a necessity for a long time...[I]t offers value for everyone."--The Journal of American History"Written from a journalistic perspective, this detailed history offers an illuminating, insightful, readable, and critical evaluation of the struggle for press freedom during wartime. Smith shows impeccable scholarship...Highly recommended for high school, public, college, and university libraries."--CHOICE"[Smith] has put together an informed, detailed, and delightful analysis of the gradual erosion of a free press...Smith's strength in this volume is his relentless use of historical example to demonstrate a pervasive erosion of constitutional principle...[Smith] has amassed a powerful argument that concessions to national security lead to a withering of freedom and the emergence of an autocratic secretive' government."--The Law and Politics Book Reviewshow more

About Jeffery Alan Smith

Jeffery A. Smith is a professor of journalism and mass communication at the University of Iowa.show more

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