Investigation 1: Does the media need democracy?: A high price to pay for the truth

In countries that are not democracies, or that do not share Australia’s liberal democratic principles, the media operates under severe restrictions with respect to what it can report. Editors and journalists may face gaol, or worse, if they report unfavourably on the government, politicians, or other powerful interests, such as businesses or corporations. Read a sample of the articles below, or share them among your group, and respond to the questions that follow.

Information sources


Read at least two of the articles above and write paragraph responses to the following questions:

  1. What impressions do the stories give you of the purpose of journalism and the news media?
  2. What are the responsibilities of journalism?
  3. Make a list of the main opponents of press freedom in the articles, and explain how and why they seek to influence the media?


  • Create mind map of the ways in which press freedom and journalists can be protected from persecution and intimidation, and present it for discussion and review to your research group.

Reporting and presenting your findings

Discuss your responses to the questions with members of your group, then write a newspaper article, devise a role play, or create a poster, cartoon or multimedia visual display based on one of the following statements:

  • In the battle to protect freedom of speech, journalists are the first line of defence.
  • The extent to which a society is democratic can be measured by the degree of freedom the media enjoys.

Find out: How many journalists were imprisoned or killed for doing their job in the last year?

Introduction | Introductory activity | The Investigations | Investigation 1 | Investigation 2 | Investigation 3 | Investigation 4 | Investigation 4 Issue 1 | Investigation 4 Issue 2