Memo to Castro: Freedom of the Press is Good

Tuesday, May 12, 2009
EDITORIAL: Castro putting his spin on freedom of the press

The Decatur Daily -- Fidel Castro, not exactly a renowned philosopher on civil liberties, has explained why he thinks a government-controlled press is better than a free one.

The 82-year-old dictator emeritus of Cuba says that in countries that guarantee press freedom, people wealthy enough to pay for newsgathering manipulate news coverage.

But a free press provides checks and balances by providing a different point of view from the government's.  And professional journalists have traditions and voluntary codes of ethics that call for fairness and citizen access.

Also, Castro ignores the virtues of competition.  Even today, with many publishers struggling financially, readers in free societies probably can get more news from more sources than ever.  The free flow of reporting and commentary helps correct errors and generate additional information and opinions.

In the U.S. and other free countries, much information gets out by low-cost publishing on the Internet.  But Cuba strictly controls the Internet, denying access to those who won't spout the government's official line.

Castro writes an online column (which state radio, television and newspapers then publish).  We'll bet plenty of other Cubans could afford financially to do the same thing if the government permitted it.