One hundred years after the start of World War I “it is sobering to look back at the way that conflict was so badly reported,” Roy Greenslade wrote for The Guardian on Sunday. Greenslade writes about censorship and propaganda that came from inside and outside journalism at the time.
The catalogue of journalistic misdeeds is a matter of record: the willingness to publish propaganda as fact, the apparently tame acceptance of censorship and the failure to hold power to account. But a sweeping condemnation of the press coverage is unjust because journalists, as ever, were prevented from informing the public by three powerful forces – the government, the military and their own proprietors.
The BBC’s Frank Gardner also looks at journalism and journalists during World War I. Gardner wrote about state censorship, self-censorship and embedded journalists during the time.
From the start of the war the British government was eager to control the flow of information from the front line, passing legislation in 1914 which allowed the War Office to censor the press and raising the spectre of the death penalty for anyone convicted of assisting the enemy. Lord Kitchener, Secretary of State for War, had crossed swords with the press in the Sudan and the Boer War and believed battle grounds were the exclusive preserve of the armed forces.
Every day through 2018, the Daily Telegraph is publishing a PDF of the newspaper in full from that date 100 years ago. Here’s a screenshot of page 14 from July 28, 1914.
On page 11, the Daily Telegraph reported “There is no doubt that during the past twenty-four hours the feeling of black pessimism which characterised Saturday and Sunday had given way to a more hopeful view of the situation.”
Newseum’s top 10 pages includes newspapers looking back at the start of the war as well as current fighting in Gaza. Here’s the front page Monday from The Villages Daily Sun in The Villages, Florida.
Here’s the front page of Der Standard from Vienna, Austria.
And on June 15, the Associated Press offered “A Photographic Look Back at World War I” with 100 images from the archives.