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(The text of Mr. Collis prepared statement follows.)
STATEMENT OF JOSEPH F. COLLIS, PRESIDENT, THE AMERICAN NEWSPAPER GUILD
(AFL-CIO) My name is Joseph F. Collis. I am assistant managing editor of the WilkesBarre (Pa.) Record and president of the American Newspaper Guild (AFL-CIO, CLC), a labor union representing more than 30,000 newspaper men and women in the United States and Canada and having more than 200 collective bargaining agreements with newspapers, news magazines, news services, and other publications in these two countries, including the Afro-American newspapers and Look magazine. With me is Ellis T. Baker, director of research and information for the guild.
One of the stated constitutional purposes of the guild is “to guarantee, as far as it is able, constant honesty in the news [and] to raise the standards of Journalism." Accordingly, in the 25 years since its founding in 1933, the guild has sought, whenever it could, to assist in maintaining and extending the people's "right to know which is so vital to the efficient functioning of a democracy such as ours.
The guild, therefore, welcomes this opportunity to appear before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Constitutional Rights in connection with the subcommittee's inquiry into the State Department's ban on entry into Communist China by United States newsmen. As members of the subcommittee may know, the International executive board of the guild considered the problems raised by the State Department's action at its quarterly meeting last month, and I think I can best present the guild's thinking on the matter by reading to you a resolution unanimously adopted by the international executive board at that meeting. RESOLUTION ADOPTED BY THE INTERNATIONAL EXECUTIVE BOARD OF THE AMERICAN
NEWSPAPER GUILD, FEBRUARY 13, 1957 Whereas the Department of State has forbidden news correspondents and reporters from the United States to travel in Communist China in quest of factual information in the performance of their duty to the public; and
Whereas William Worthy of the Afro-American newspapers and Edmund Stereos and Philip Harrington of Look magazine have, nevertheless, entered Red China for just such a purpose; and
Whereas the State Department, upon their return, has moved to revoke their passports and has threatened further punitive action; and
Whereas Joseph F. Collis, president of the American Newspaper Guild, has protested the State Department's action as a refusal to recognize the special status of news reporters in seeking out the truth; and
Whereas the Newspaper Guild of New York, also has criticized the travel tan as “restriction on free, democratic reporting"; and
Whereas further protests have come from Editor & Publisher, the industry's trade publication; from many of the Nation's newspapers; from the American Cira Liberties Union, and from such organizations of the press as the American Newspaper Publishers Association and the Overseas Press Club; and
Whereas Senator Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota has termed the State Department's action "an unwarranted abuse of the right to travel and an intolerable interference with the right to read” and has called for a Senate hearing on the ban: Now, therefore, be it
Rezolred, That the International Executive Board of the American Newspaper Guild (AFL-CIO, CLC), at its regular quarterly meeting, February 13, 1957, bereby adds its voice to those protests and considers the State Department's interdiction an offensive intrusion against the people's right to know and an unLecessary bindrance of reporters in the pursuit of their duties; and be it further
Resolved, That the various contradictory and confusing reasons for the ban advanced by Secretary of State Dulles in no way justify this stringent restriction on reporters in their function as information gatherers, thus penalizing the people of the United States in their right to such information; and be it further
Resolred, That the suggestion by Secretary Dulles that reporters admitted by Red China would be "bandpicked" by the Communists, and the implication it contains that these newsmen would somehow be suspect, is a mean and gratuitous glur against the character and integrity of those newsmen invited to Red China and of the entire American press; and be it further
As matters now stand, the American people are being provided with coverage of Soviet China. But that coverage is usually based on reports from official Communist sources or on reports from foreign newspapermen who are stationed in Peiping. We insist that the American public should not be forced to learn the facts about Chinese communism from foreign journalists, no matter how distinguished they may be. Instead, the American public has a right to learn the facts from Americans, trained to report as Americans with an American perspective.
Senator O’MAHONEY. You might add to that, I suppose, that you insist that the American public should not be restricted to the releases of the State Department with respect to information on foreign affairs?
Mr. LASKY. Yes, sir.
Mr. LASKY. Might I just say, Senator-I know we all have to go to lunch—but on the question of Bill Worthy, I have read most of his stuff, and I would say that if there is anything
Senator O'MAHONEY, Let the record show that "stuff" is the word ordinarily used by newspapermen regarding their own stuff.
Mr. LASKY. That is right. I have read most of his excellent articles, sir, and I would say that if there is anything communistic about them, or procommunistic, that I am Khrushchev's son-in-law.
Thank you, sir.
Mr. SLAYMAN. Mr. Chairman, we have a statement consisting of some editorials from Editor & Publisher presented by the president and editor, Mr. Robert U. Brown.
Senator O'MAHONEY. They may be received.
EDITOR & PUBLISHER,
New York, N. Y., March 28, 1957. Mr. CHARLES H. SLAYMAN, Jr.,
Chief Counsel, Senate Constitutional Rights Subcommittee, United States
Senate, Senate Office Building, Washington, D.O. DEAR MR. SLAYMAN: As I mentioned by wire, I appreciated your kind invitation to appear before the Senate Constitutional Rights Subcommittee tomorrow morning, and am sorry that I cannot attend.
I am enclosing herewith copies of all the editorials that Editor & Publisher has had on the subject of the ban on correspondents going to Red China.
I think that these editorials say about just all that Editor & Publisher has to say on this subject at this time. Cordially yours,
ROBERT U. BROWN,
President and Editor. (August 18, 1956)
STATE DEPARTMENT BAN
We join with those editors who have protested the State Department's ban against newsmen visiting Red China at the invitation of that Government. The Department's position is that it will deny passports for travel to China as long as the Peiping regime keeps American citizens as “political hostages." Who are we trying to kid? Soviet Russia and some of its satellites have kept plenty of American citizens as hostages from time to time and yet we continue diplomatic and journalistic contacts.
Communists have released hostages only when it pleases them to do so and nothing our State Department tries to do seems to have any accelerating effect. The Chinese Reds undoubtedly would try to utilize a visit of United States newsmen for their own propaganda devices. But experienced American reporters are not likely to swallow Communist propaganda at this point in history and they might return home with some valuable information which might be of interest even to the State Department. The Department's position is a new and dangerous restriction on news coverage and in effect means that our Government will not permit the American people to be given the same information that is available to other nations which have correspondents inside Red China.
[September 1, 1956]
STATE DEPARTMENT'S BAN
It is unfortunate and disappointing that prominent spokesmen for American journalism have dropped their protests against the State Department's ban on sending reporters into Red China simply because President Eisenhower expressed his "full concurrence in the policy statement." It is apparently the feeling of these journalists that they do not want to dispute the judgment of the President of the United States.
It is our feeling that if the principle involved was worth arguing before it is still worth fighting for regardless of the President's position. His pronouncement might solidify the State Department's policy and make it impossible to alter, but it does not make that policy automatically correct, nor does it prevent American newspapermen from criticizing it or espousing a different policy which they believe to be the correct one.
The United States has already lost the propaganda initiative in the Far East over its refusal to permit newsmen to accept Red China's invitation. Advices from an Australian correspondent who was in China at the time reveal Chinese newspapers are criticizing the United States for preventing the free flow of information.
But the real point at issue is whether United States newspapermen should be the pawns of our Government's foreign policy or should they follow historical precedents to search out the news wherever it is available and wherever they want. They are now in the unhappy and dangerous position of being a bargaining factor in our Government's relations with Red China. The Government has said: “This news source is closed to you because we don't approve of it.”
We think this warrants the protest, not the concurrence, of all United States newspapermen.
[November 3, 1956)
Do WE BELIEVE IN IT? Herbert Brucker has asked the question: "How much do the editors of America believe in freedom of information?" Mr. Brucker is editor of the Hartford Courant and chairman of the freedom of information committee of the American Sviety of Newspaper Editors.
He ras chagrined and disappointed as Editor & Publisher was at the veil of slepce which fell over the scene last August after the President expressed his "Pall concurrence" with the State Department in banning United States reporters from Red China. Before that, stalwarts among the editors were leaping into the fray and expressing disagreement with the State Department's reasoning god action. Afterward, complete silence.
Editor and Publisher said, and still believes, “if the principle involved was worth arguing before it is still worth fighting for regardless of the President's peition."
The struggle for freedom of information is a full-time job and one that involves "the wbole wide world of facts, ideas, and feelings," as Mr. Brucker has said, and not just what goes on within our own borders. American editors never have been loathe before to combat press censorship, suppression, or restrictions on freedom of information wherever they occurred.
The test sought by William Worthy in seeking renewal of his passport, withi the aid of the American Civil Liberties Union, can be delayed indefinitely by technicalities and may be inconclusive inasmuch as there is no announced intent to use the passport for travel to a prohibited area.
The State Department is stalling for time hoping to obtain release of the 10 American prisoners still in Red China after which it will probably reverse itself on the correspondents issue. It is this very technique—that of making newsmen and the press an instrument of foreign policy-to which the press is objecting.
[March 9, 1957]
POSITION UNALTEREDBUT “We have not altered the position which we took then,” said Secretary of State Dulles to his news conference this week referring to the administration's previous stand against travel to Red China.
This seems to confirm Editor & Publisher's statement last week: "The State Department shows no indication of backing down on its ban ***"
However, Mr. Dulles also told newsmen: “We are continuing to study and explore the matter to see whether any ways could be found to satisfy better the demand for news coverage without seeming to drop the barriers down generally, and to permit of what the Chinese Communists call 'cultural exchange.' So far, we have not found any solution, but, undoubtedly, we will keep on study. ing the matter."
In other words, there is some inclination in the Department to soften its position in response to the protests of newspapermen and newspaper groups if a way can be found to do so diplomatically.
Mr. Dulles also confirmed reports there would be no legal action taken against the three correspondents who recently went into Red China but their passports might not be renewed. There certainly will be a court test of this last position.
Mr. SLAYMAN. We have a letter from the Radio Television News Directors Association presented by Ted Koop, their president. The association submits this statement in lieu of appearing.
Senator O’MAHONEY. It will be made a part of the record. (The statement referred to is as follows:)
WASHINGTON, D. C., March 28, 1957. CHARLES H. SLAYMAN, Jr., Chief Counsel, Senate Constitutional Rights Subcommittee
United States Senate, Washington, D.O. DEAR MR. SLAYMAN: I have your telegram asking whether the Radio Television News Directors Association wishes to make a statement about freedom of travel abroad for accredited American newsmen. I believe our position is best stated in a recent letter to Secretary of State Dulles, a copy of which is enclosed. Sincerely,
Washington, D. C., March 8, 1957. Hon. JOHN FOSTER DULLES, Secretary of State,
Department of State, Washington, D. C. MY DEAR MR. SECRETARY: The Radio Television News Directors Association, having an intense interest in promoting freedom of information, has deplored the State Department's refusal to permit American newsmen to visit Communist China. We were heartened, therefore, by your statement this week that you “are continuing to study and explore the matter to see whether any ways could be found to satisfy better the demand for news coverage without seeming to drop the barriers down generally.” We hope this indicates early affirmative action.
It is our professional conviction that the best way to expose the weaknesses and dangers of the Red China regime would be to allow trained American report. ers to tour the country and present their findings to the world. Even though their movements might be restricted and propaganda would be forced upon them, we are confident that their accurate stories, broadcasts, and film would be revealing. Only in this way can the American people learn what is really transpiring.
RTNDA respectfully urges you to reverse your decision so that our American tradition of free access to all the news can be maintained. Never has it been so necessary to keep the public fully informed. Sincerely,
TED KOOP, President. Senator O’MAHONEY. Have you heard from Mr. Cranston Williams, general manager of the American Newspaper Publishers Association
Mr. SLAYMAN. Mr. Cranston Williams wired that he would not appear in person, but he would like to file a statement for the American Newspaper Publishers Association.
Senator O'MAHONEY. That has not been received as yet?
Senator O'MAHONEY. The committee will stand in recess at the call of the Chair.
(Whereupon, at 12:40 p. m. the committee adjourned subject to the call of the Chair.)