The Press: A Right & a Duty

For two months, in Louisiana's booming oil and chemical town of Lake Charles (pop. 41,202), a court has been pondering a question vital to the U.S. press: Is there a sharp limit to a newspaper's freedom to criticize public officials? Last week District Judge J. Bernard Cocke handed down a ruling that was a flat no. Criticism of public officials, he held, is not only a newspaper's right but its duty. He acquitted Managing Editor Kenneth Dixon and four other members of the Lake Charles American Press of criminal charges that their crusade last spring against wide open gambling had defamed...

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