The Wrong Light doesn’t present viewers with abstract arguments about freedom of the press; instead, they are shown that press in action. Human trafficking is real, and every dollar that is swindled by fake charities is a dollar that doesn’t go toward helping some of the most vulnerable members of the global community. The film shows that we need committed, responsible, determined journalists because few of us have the resources to investigate the truth claims of those who make demands for our attention, our money, our votes, and our praise.
Individually, each of these documentaries makes powerful points about how both individuals and communities are served and strengthened by a healthy and active free press. Collectively, they inspire, challenge, and provoke us to move past easy sloganeering about “fake news” and “media bias” to consider the ways good journalism informs and serves us. Don’t Speak concludes with a quote from Thomas Jefferson: “Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.” Today we might update his sentiments by saying that the Gawkers of the world may be salacious, but we cannot suppress them without irreparably altering the environment and violating the principles that have given rise to the best journalists in our nation’s history.
Kenneth R. Morefield (@kenmorefield) is a professor of English at Campbell University. He is the editor of Faith and Spirituality in Masters of World Cinema, Volumes I, II, & III, and the founder of 1More Film Blog.