HONG KONG — Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States, was adamant that a free press is the most precious of all freedoms because it opens up or expands other freedoms. He famously wrote that given the choice of a government without a free press or a free press without a government, he would unhesitatingly prefer press freedom.

Yet, today the free press is in danger from many directions — under attack not merely from repressive governments that fear for their future that Jefferson was right, but also from the erratic cult of the Internet, ubiquitous public relations consultants, proprietors and journalists themselves.

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