Free press has to ask questions
Madam –Paul Bew's letter (Sunday Independent, December 9, 2012) on the subject of the 275th anniversary of the Belfast Newsletter helps to focus on the importance of the role of a free press in a democracy.
The Newsletter's history also helps us focus on the fact that while the media may be free they, like all human institutions, can abuse that freedom.
The Newsletter may have been, as Paul Bew claims, "the most important newspaper in the world" in the 18th Century. It did, however, regard relatively uncritically a situation in Ireland at that time in which the Penal Laws ostracised most of the population of this island from political, professional and educational life.