This introductory chapter provides an overview of the book's main themes. The book challenges the myth that if we just get out of the way of good journalists and let them tell truth to power, they will produce the information that vibrant democracies need. It complicates the idea of press freedom and shows that it emerges not from individual heroes but from social, technological, institutional, and normative forces that vie for power, imagine publics, and implicitly fight for visions of democracy. Press freedom is viewed as a concept to think with—a generative and constructive tool for looking at any given era of the press and public life and asking, is this version of press freedom giving us the kind of publics we need? If not, how do we revise the institutional arrangements underpinning press freedom and make a different thing that we agree to call ‘the press’?
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