Uninhibited, Robust, and Wide-Open: A Free Press for a New Century

By Lee C. Bollinger

{Oxford University Press: 2010}

Fall 2010

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In his new book, Columbia University President and Professor of Law Lee C. Bollinger ’71 traces the turbulent evolution of American freedom of the press, which he touts as “one of the greatest achievements of the United States.” Bollinger contends that, as modern media outlets struggle to survive in uncharted territory, maintaining an “uninhibited, robust, and wide-open” public discourse is more important than ever.

“Globalization intensifies our need for the press to remain free and independent so that it can report accurately on the world, from the world, to the world,” writes Bollinger, one of the nation’s foremost First Amendment scholars, in the book’s opening pages. “How will we confront this new, more reactive, and more integrated world with a press weakened by a lack of stable funding and forced to navigate through a bewildering landscape in which the laws governing censorship and access to newsworthy information vary from nation to nation?”

Bollinger attempts to address that question throughout the book. In analyzing First Amendment history in the context of the new media reality, he makes a persuasive case for extending American-style press protections beyond U.S. borders and for the creation of a global free speech code that is not only reliant on the concept of
human rights.

“At a moment of existential threat to the role and even existence of the American press, Lee Bollinger has written a lucid and masterful account of the press and the First Amendment in the 21st century,” said Floyd Abrams, a renowned First Amendment attorney. “Sweeping well beyond legal analysis, Bollinger’s focus on the need to overcome barriers to newsgathering within the United States and abroad makes this book an indispensable contribution to how to save the press and how to make the press worth saving.”

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