Freedom of speech in the United States is in greater danger than it has been in 250 years, Zechariah Chafee, Jr., University Professor, stated before the Associated Press Managing Editors Association meeting in Boston yesterday.
Chafee, who gave the only outside address during the three day convention, appealed to the Press to re-examine its role and to remedy its shortcomings "not through formal codes but through professional training and the professional spirit.
"It is the task of the press itself to prevent abuses of power and to make sure that it increasingly performs the services which the American people need from the press," Chafee stated.
"Truth About Facts"
Chafee called for publishers to realize "the weighty and difficult moral responsibility" that goes with a free press. "It is no longer enough to report the fact truthfully. It is now necessary to report the truth about the fact."
"Sometimes a fact is accurately printed and yet it leaves an altogether incorrect impression on the reader unless its significance is evaluated at the time it is printed.
"The constant repetition of defamatory statements about American citizens by newspapers who suspect with good reason that these statements are largely untrue, is not a performance of which the press can be proud," Chafee stated.
Among other suggestions Chafee put forth were a better corrective (than libel suits) for mistakes in the press, a complete presentation of all viewpoints in the community, and a constant effort by the press to aid the free flow of news throughout the world.