Putting Jefferson's Quote On Newspapers Into Context
from the funny-how-that-works dept
Earlier this year, we took on why journalists who were quoting Thomas Jefferson’s famous line: “were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate to prefer the latter” were missing the point, noting that he really meant journalism not newspapers — and journalism isn’t going away at all. However, Jay Rosen points out that the quote is actually out of context. The full Jefferson quote even more clearly makes the point that it’s not physical newspapers, he’s concerned about:
“The basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. But I should mean that every man should receive those papers and be capable of reading them.” — Thomas Jefferson
From that quote, it seems likely that Jefferson would be quite a fan of the web and the fact that news on the web was free and widely available — contrary to the point made by most old school news folks quoting it.