Press freedom is a precious right, but something that most Deseret News readers probably take for granted.

There are, however, many places among our neighbors in the Western Hemisphere where freedom of the press is threatened, limited or even nonexistent. Even in some countries where freedom of the press is declared, there is a growing tendency by governments to act on the premise that the best way to deal with charges of criminal activity, corruption or political repression is simply to conceal what is happening.Fortunately, there are dedicated "watchdogs" who are concerned about press freedom in our hemisphere, and one of the most effective of these groups is meeting this week in Salt Lake City.

The Deseret News is proud to be a co-host to the 44th annual General Assembly of the Inter-American Press Association.

Representatives from newspapers in some two dozen Western Hemisphere countries are here this week to hear reports about the status of press freedom in every country, to hear important speakers and to continue to urge governments to protect and promote the people's right to know.

This is an important convention for Salt lake City, and efforts to bring the IAPA meetings here were begun a half-dozen years ago by such Utah journalists as Wendell J. Ashton, Gary Neeleman and Arch Madsen. Now the assembly meetings are here, and Utahns can watch with interest as speakers and panelists examine in depth what is happening to the free press and democracy itself in the countries of the Americas.

IAPA is a nonprofit organization of Western Hemisphere publications dedicated to guarding freedom of the press, fostering and protecting the interests of the daily and periodical press of the Americas, and promoting and maintaining the dignity, rights and responsibilities of journalism.

The organization also works for uniform standards of professional and business conduct, and provides a forum to exchange ideas and information that contribute to the cultural, material and technical development of the press.

Those who meet here in Salt Lake City this week will face such issues as the murders of journalists in Panama, Mexico and Colombia; repressive acts against the media in Nicaragua; and the threats against press freedom and democracy in Chile, Paraguay and Cuba. Reports will also consider the drug problems of the hemisphere and the licensing of journalists, an idea being implemented by some governments to control what is written and published.

The Deseret News extends its warm welcome to the several hundred journalists here this week for IAPA meetings and urges all of our readers to follow our coverage of the assembly proceedings.