To Improve Man Rationally, Morally, and Socially

“The press is the best instrument for enlightening the mind of man, and improving him as a rational, moral and social being.” One of the founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson, explains brilliantly why the press must work to report on what is bad to effect some sort of good. I believe that due to the present condition of the world, the press has an enormous responsibility to report and bring justice to the atrocities of humanity. Growing up, I was complacent about the press for many years, but when I was a sophomore in high school, I realized how the press has failed our world. The result of this failure has been the death and depression of many humans. This failure came with the press’ refusal to report on the atrocities that happen in our common humanity, from world issues, to my small community. I became active in the anti-war effort, as a close friend and mentor of mine, Sue, had a son recently return from Iraq. Sue’s son, Jesse, suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. But the military did not care. I only read about this injustice by the military in some blatantly leftist blogs. This is an atrocity. During the school year, I was active with many different community groups and clubs. With these groups, I learned about the vast amount of homelessness in my own small community. Our school newspaper published multiple articles about local poverty and the articles received widespread praise in the community. No one had any real idea of the problem before a high school newspaper brought it to light. This is an atrocity. The next summer, I had the opportunity to go to Uganda to build a school. In Uganda, I saw people dying from AIDS. I saw young children who would never be given a chance to succeed. People were amazed and appalled when I came back to America and told the stories of what I had seen in Uganda. No large media source had bothered to shed light on the plight of so many people. This is an atrocity. My experiences in the short 18 years of my life have shown me the best and worst of humanity. I have seen the most beautiful aspects of our world. I have seen the most selfless altruists doing what they do best. I have also seen some of the worse. I have seen people dying and people in pain worse than I could imagine, and I have heard the stories of war. Humans are aware of the great things that can be achieved through education and unity. All humans believe in altruistic heroes. But many humans do not realize the atrocities of the world, and it cannot be expected for all humans to experience such atrocities firsthand. This is the job of the press. And if the press does not stay free and does not take responsibility for such issues, then many of these atrocities may never end. Kevin Arritt received fifth place in the 2009 First Amendment Day EssayContest, sponsored by the Iowa High School Press Association and theGreenlee School of Journalism and Communication at Iowa StateUniversity. Click here to learn more about First Amendment Day at Iowa State University.