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Javnost - The Public, Vol. 9 - 2002, No. 3

Rethinking Publicness: The Precedence of the Right to Communicate

, pages: 83-106

The principle of publicity was originally conceived as a critical impulse against injustice based on secrecy of state actions and as an enlightening momentum substantiating the “region of human liberty,” making private citizens equal in the public use of reason. Early debates on freedom of the press pointed toward the idea of publicity as an extension of individuals’ freedom of thought and expression. With the constitutional guarantee for a free press in parliamentary democracies, discussions of freedom of the press were largely reduced to the pursuit of freedom by the media, thus neglecting the idea of publicity as the basis of democratic citizenship. The concepts of public service media and, to a lesser extent, the model of social responsibility of the press attempted at recuperating the latter dimension of publicity, but with very limited success. The discrimination in favour of the power/control function of the press clearly abstracted freedom of the press from the Kantian quest for the public use of reason. In democratic societies where the people rather then different estates legitimise all the powers, the control dimension of publicity embodied in the corporate freedom of the press should be effectively supplemented by actions toward equalising private citizens in the public use of reason.

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