Access to Information
In his recent work, Jerome Barron has asked whether mandated access to the media is still needed, given the arrival of the Internet. He believes that it is:
The mainstream media, major big city newspapers, and
broadcast networks are still powerful shapers of opinion. Web
sites, chat rooms, and other forums on the Internet may
challenge information these media can and do convey by
providing information the mainstream media do not. But the
mainstream media still set the agenda for the contemporary
The argument that Barron makes is that the Internet has not displaced the mainstream media in the democratic process. As a result, mandated access to traditional media remains a necessary objective to ensure that the marketplace of ideas represents a breadth of public ideas. While this position reinforces Barron’s original argument in favor of access to the media, what is Barron’s position on mandated access to the Internet?
Of the Internet specifically, Barron has written that its “very mode is access.”2 The Internet, in other words, would not exist in its current form if citizens lacked access to both find and create information in
1 Jerome A. Barron, Access Reconsidered, 76 George Washington Law Review, 826, 843 (2008).
2 Jerome A. Barron, Access to the Media—a Contemporary Appraisal, 35 Hofstra Law Review, 937, 950 (2007); emphasis added.