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NKWS-IIKK/\IJ). I'ananiii City, l'ra.,Suii(la.v,S<«|it»'mlMr lira PaR('9/\ NEW YORK - (NEA) More than 80 per cent of the nation's newspaper editors would rather go to jail than reveal confiudtial news souices. A recent poll of 345 editors indicated that 83 per cent are "prepared" or "prob- ablv prepared" to face jail if ordered by a grand jury to reveal protected sources. The same poll showed that editors arouna the country are almost equally divided on whether or not they favor a national shield law for reporters. A, strong 70 per cent of those polled feel that the "free press" clause of the First Amendment is absolute and requires no interpretation, while 65 per cent thought that a National Press Council to monitor the national media was unequivocally or probably a bad idea. These attitudes were revealed in a poll taken recently by Newspaper Enterprise Association of 560 newspapers who subscribe to NEA's aaily service. Of the editors polled, 345 — or 62 per cent - responded. Lawrence Sawyer, of the Terre Haute, (Ind.) star took issue with the majority on protecting confidential sources: No. Once in a blue moon this might be necessary, but cases I know about involved joining forces with unsavory groups in exchange for some dubious scoops." Many editors who were prepared to go to jail to protect sources, said that it would depend on the specific case. John A. Jones, of the Johnson, City (Tenn.) Press- Chronicle, answered less equivocally: "Yes. Without sources, we would depend Editors back source protection, split on national press shield law / M A V 1.1 Jiet 11.. 1 _. .rrl %f\tt\A oUe/xliitn nrtA iin^i^n^ Kictit* A Hn>.> In... »:»L.i . . . . i ^ i upon government PR men to [ill us in.' Experience has shown that they will not and can not give the press what it needs to adequately present the happenings of government — from the courthouse to the White House. " Responding to the "jail" question. Charles W. Utter of the Westerly (R. I.) Sun wrote: "Yes. Will YOU go with me?" "I'd like to say yes, but I wonder what I'd do, in fact, if the challenge arose," answered John 0. Hjelle, of the Bismarck (N.D.) Tribune. While the editors surveyed split 48 per cent to 45 per cent on whether or not they favor a "shield" law for reporters, WORLD ALMANAC the difference really turns on a question of means rather than principle. All but a handful of the editors feel'that reporters should be protected. Many Question whether a "shield is the best way to secure such protection. "Yes," wrote Leonard Schubert of the Marinette (Wis.) Eagle-Star, favoring the proposed "shield" legislation, "(but) I prefer the constitutional protection which seemed to function for years until the courts broke it down." Many editors who supported the shield specified that it should he absolute and unconditional — for instance, Sandra Thorson of the La Porte (Ind.) Herald-Argus, who supports Sen. Alan Cranston's (D- Calif.) bill guaranteeing journalists "absolute privilege." The majority of "shield" opponents feared that such a law might open the door for further congressional limitation of reporters' rights. Richard Day, of the Montrose (Colo.) Daily Press, argued: "Any law would delineate the areas covered by the 'shield,' thus creating specific 'non- shield' areas. The courts should handle the issue as it arises on an individual case basis. A new law might open the floodgates for other, restrictive legislation." A few opponents of the law feared it might lead to licensing of reporters and photographers, while a substantial minority opposed the idea on the grounds that "reporters are citizens like everybody else. If the li'irst Amendment does not offer sufficient protection in .specific cases, they should be prepared to go to jail to protect sources," wrote James Oliver of the Albert Lea (Minn.) Tribune. On whether the "free press" clause of the First The custom of clothing baby boys in blue began because of a belief that evil spirits which would harm a male child could be kept powerless by blue, which was thought to have divine powers, The World Almanac says. Girl babies were not given a "protective" color because they were considered inferior and evil spirits would not take interest in them. Amendment is absolute and requires no interpretation, opinions diverged sharply. "Yes. No law means NO LAW," wrote Robert Lewis, of the Troy (Ala.) Messenger. "No. I have not heard of a single item in the Bill of Rights which is absolute. We are being idealistic and selfish to think so," countered Stan Voit of the Natchez (Miss.) Democrat. Patrick Bushey, of the KIama,th Falls (Ore.) Herald and News, feared that an "absolute" interpretation would leave the door open to pornography. "Given an absolute choice, I'd take press freedom with pornography, but I feel we can have one without the other." But while 70 per cent of those polled feel that the First Amendment is explicit and should not be construed to limit press freedom, many of them added, "I'm afraid the Supreme Court doesn't agree with me." While only six per cent of the respondents felt that a National Press Council was a good idea, several editors agreed with Fred Brown, of the Sterling (Colo.) Journal- Advocatp that "self-regulation is infinitely preferable to government regulation." Others, like Garner Allen, of the Stuttgart (Ark.) Daily Leader, wondered: "Who then monitors the Council? God?" A large number of editors feared that the establishment of such a voluntary council would encourage governmental regulation of the press. To preclude such official or voluntary intervention, editors called for more critiques from trade magazines, for more competition to provide "monitoring", and for continuing reliance on reader criticism to assure fair coverage. 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