Some years ago I campaigned to stop the building on a city park. Many of the arguments that were thrown at us are eerily similar to those being kicked around regarding press freedom.
It’s mostly about the dangers of freedom.
But it is dangers that help us to evolve, indeed, you could argue that they are inseparable.
We were told that open spaces were dangerous.
That paedophiles hide in trees.
That parks have to be safe for people to use them.
Parks are about escape.
They are about allowing people a level of control: on what they do, where they go, what they can see, who they asociate with.
They are also about openness. Allowing people to behave as they choose makes them visible to all, so they tend to behave better.
In the 18th century, street markets were filthy noisy places, but they were also open to all. Cities started building indoor markets to control standards, behavior, but people opposed this.
They felt safer out in the open, in the wind and rain.
Britain has some of the worst, most gutter rolling newspapers, but it also has some of the most enlightened, intelligent and moral press.
The journalists and others accused of phone hacking, bribery etc who are now on trial are there because of good journalism.
The open press throws up some horrors, but that is what some people choose to buy. the public are free to support or to reject it.
I am sometimes appalled by the rubbish that gets printed, but like the behaviour of some people in open spaces, that is the price we all pay for freedom.
What other profession- the law, medicine, banking, is so good at exposing its own failings as the press?
It is not just what it does sometimes, it is what it is.
Journalism is about spreading information, ideas, entertaining us, making us laugh and cry.
It has to stay free to find its own truths, or it will cease to be.