Press Freedoms or the Rights of Innocents?

April 22, 2013, 4:38 PM GMT+0

Americans choose press freedoms over protection of innocent suspects - but only just

In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings some media outlets publicised the photographs and even names of alleged suspects who quickly turned out to be innocent. Most controversially, the New York Post published a photograph of two high school students on its front page stating that they were major suspects. The two were rapidly cleared of all wrongdoing by the FBI.

The latest YouGov research shows that Americans are largely split on how to deal with this issue. 47% believe that the right to press freedom is more important than protecting the innocent from false accusations while 31% support restrictions on the press to prevent false accusations.

These results are remarkably similar across all demographic groups, with Democrats (35%) being only marginally more likely than Republicans (29%) to support restrictions to prevent false accusations.

Currently the law only prevents newspapers from making a clear, direct and unproven accusation but this is under increasing scrutiny after the behavior of some newspapers after the Boston Marathon bombings.

Complete results are available here.

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