The media have special rights, freedoms and duties because they have a special function as a “watchdog” in a democratic society.

Role as a “watchdog”

The media are entrusted with a very important role: to inform society about matters that are important to it and create a platform for public debate, reflection and scrutiny. Because of this role, independent and qualitative media are considered to be the “watchdog” of every democratic society.

Special rights, Freedoms & Protection

The media work for the benefit of the entire society in keeping the public informed and making sure the public can scrutinise the work of government, politicians and other people who play an important role in society. Therefore they are afforded more freedom and protection. For example, they may use harsher terms in their criticism and protect their sources.

Duties & Responsibilities

However, these special rights and freedoms are not unlimited and they involve duties and responsibilities as well. Journalists have a special responsibility towards society to publish truthful and verified information. A journalist’s freedom of expression may also be restricted if he/she overstep the boundaries of other people’s privacy and reputation. For example, when publishing private details that are not relevant for public discussion or allegations that have no factual basis.

Last updated 26/02/2024