A comparison of two challenges to freedom of the press, in Indonesia and Denmark, reveals some of the linkages among semiotic ideologies, secularism, and a moral narrative of modernity. By analyzing conflicts between semiotic ideologies, the article shows how actual journalistic practices both presuppose and deviate from the assumptions of any given such ideology. The article also discusses claims about the role of the press in the history of the nation. The case comparison brings out some fundamental tensions between two grounds for this role, to speak as a voice of a people and to serve as a conduit for truth. Viewed in the context of the semiotic ideologies they presuppose, conflicts over the actions and authority of the press can reveal some of the difficulties posed by the moral narrative of modernity and the common sense of contemporary liberalism.

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