Profile America: Freedom of the Press

Sunday, November 17. The first glimmers of what Americans now take for granted — freedom of the press — started on this date in 1734. It came with the arrest of John Peter Zenger, a German immigrant who published the New York Weekly Journal.

After a series of critical articles, he was charged with libeling the British colonial governor. During his 10 months in jail, Zenger continued to edit the paper from his cell. His acquittal in the case is regarded as an important first step toward freedom of the press.

Now, that right is cherished and exercised continually by the nation’s 7,500 newspaper publishers, along with some 8,300 broadcasting establishments.

Well over 400,000 Americans work in these communication fields.

Profile America is in its 23rd year as a public service of the U.S. Census Bureau. You can find more facts about America from the U.S. Census Bureau online.

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