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The fortunes of the three leading international news agencies of the Western world differed greatly during World War II: Havas news was wound up and replaced by a state news agency, OFI, while many French resistance movements prepared for a new independent agency, which, in August 1944, emerged in part as Agence France-Presse. Reuters had a chequered career, with major internal changes while seeking to monitor the British and allied war effort with depleted resources. The US international agencies, led by Associated Press, developed their war coverage and expanded as US power increased worldwide.
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TASS expanded, as the Soviet bloc grew in the closing months of World War II and, subsequently, notably in central and eastern Europe: the sources of information about it are hard to access. The West was to consider TASS correspondents as synonymous with propaganda and spying, when in fact, from a different ideological stance, they provided world news to the Soviet elite: indeed, the colours of the paper on which their news bulletins were printed reflected the different levels of the hierarchy with access to their reports; cf. T. E. Kruglak, The two faces of TASS , Twin cities, Univ. of Minnesota press, 1962; P. Lendvai, The Bureaucracy of Truth: How Communist Governments Manage the News.. Boulder, Colorado, and London: Westview Press and Burnett Books, 1981.
Cf. the work of Xin Xin, such as “ Xinhua news agency and globalization: negotiating between the global, the local and the national” in Boyd-Barrett, O. (ed .) Communications media, globalization, and empire, Eastleigh, UK: John Libbey & Company, 2007, pp. 111–128.
The OFI archive has traces of both A. de Holstein and Fontenoy. In Vichy on 8 June 1944—two days after the Allied landings in Normandy—de Holstein wrote of recruiting two new reliable German speaking journalists in Lyon, but they should not be chosen from among the “more or less disguised Jews of Paris Soir and 7 Jours”. In May 1944, when an allied landing was considered imminent, Fontenoy told OFI staff in Lyon that, if their communications were cut off, they should turn to German censors in Lyon, specially count Schoenfeld.
Cf. Ph. Amaury, Les deux premières expériences d’un “Ministère de l’Information” en France, Paris: Librairie générale de Droit et de Jurisprudence, 1969.
Quoted in R. Mosely, Reporting war, New Haven & London: Yale U.P., 2017, p. 7.
AP, Breaking news, p. 222.
Which supported appeasement under successive editors, G. Dawson and R. Barrington-Ward.
D. Read, op. cit., p. 217.
OFI-Havas announced: “the following communiqué has been published: ‘yesterday afternoon, soon after 3 PM, admiral Darlan was assassinated in Algiers … The impression in Vichy is …’”. The regional daily Ouest-Eclair wrote that “according to the official agency Reuter ‘the death of Darlan, although tragic, will facilitate the task of reconstruction of French forces in North Africa and ends the fear of treachery that was always present as long as Darlan held an important post’”.
D. Read, op. cit., p. 209.
AP, Breaking news, op. cit., p. 226.
In London, “guidance” from the home secretary, Sir Samuel Hoare, accepted at a meeting on 30 August 1939, including two Reuters’ representatives, Rickatson-Hatt and his deputy, R. N. Neale, included: “avoid any personal reference to Hitler at the present time”.
The Hellschreiber (named after its German inventor Rudolf Hell) was a facsimile-based teleprinter devised in 1925. It was simpler and more robust than existing teleprinters and provided intelligible communication over poor quality radio or cable links. Between 1936–39, the bureau of the conference of allied agencies conducted a study of the Siemens-Hell circular radio services that allied agencies used. Newswire services used the apparatus until the 1980s.
D. Read, op. cit., p. 216.
London: John Murray, 1940.
Op. cit., p. 61.
Ibid., p. 141.
D. Read, op. cit., p. 222.
“Occupied”, “non-occupied”, “prohibited”.
Maurice Schumann (1911–98), a Gaullist journalist in London, 1940–44, and later de Gaulle’s foreign minister, joined Havas in the early 1930s, and served under Bret in London; cf. Christian Hocq , “ Les racines de Maurice Schumann: un chrétien face au nazisme”, Publications de l’Institut de recherches historiques du Septentrion, 2009.
His life-long loyalty to “ le Général”, he amusingly described thus: “only two things separate us: I arrived in London in 1940 before him; I’m 10 centimetres taller”. Marin will figure prominently in this and the next chapter.
Agence française d’information et de presse. This was in effect a subsidiary of the main German agency, D.N.B, dependent on the Propaganda Abteilung., despite attempts to mask this. Cf. Ph. Amaury, op. cit .
M. Palmer. “Office français d’information, 1940–1944”, Revue d’Histoire de la 2è guerre mondiale, n° 101, janvier 1976, Paris: P.U.F, pp. 19–40.
L. Chadé, “L’organisation des services ‘étranger’ de l’OFI”, 29 January, 1941; “rapports sur le marché: service ‘étranger’”, December 1941. Archives OFI, A.N. 5AR/488-5AR/524. Following the destruction of the French fleet—to prevent it falling to German forces which, since 11 November, occupied the southern zone—ordered by Vichy, in the night of 26–27 November 1942, Chadé successfully transmitted abroad a French version of the news via a Swiss transmitter; this was considered “anti-German”; days later, he was sacked.
P.-L. Bret, op. cit., p. 157.
Ibid. , p. 161.
P.-L. Bret, op. cit., p. 298.
From 8–9 November 1942 to 31 March 1944, the Bret memoirs take the form of notes, almost day by day.
After World War II, the AFP Franco-German photographer, Eric Schwab, “snapped” Negre and seven other Resistance figures in Buchenwald.
Student of the prestigious Ecole normale supérieure.
Some recruits had journalistic experience, others were Resistance figures, still others ex-Havas (pre-1940s) staffers. The last-mentioned included Perre Viansson-Ponté, later one of the major “s ignatures” of Le Monde . AFP’s Claude Roussel weaned out any with “ collaborationiste” ties. AFP archives contains a list of the fervent Nazi sympathisers of AFIP. Resistant figures included B. Teslenko, who later wrote his memoirs. He, like many other recruits who staffed foreign bureaux in eastern and central Europe, had Russian, Czech and similar ties. For instance, V. Lapteff, born (1913) in Switzerland of a French mother, did his military service as a liaison officer with the British army, joined Havas in June 1937 on the North America service, worked for OFI on the monitoring of Russian radio, was twice interrogated by the Gestapo, rejoined Paris early 1944, worked for two Resistance underground agencies, and from 20 August 1944, when AFP was founded, organised the agency’s Russian service. In April 1945, he was AFP’s correspondent in Belgrade.
The first was Géraud Jouve, director from 15 August 1944 to 15 January 1946. Nickname: zéro Jouve.
In 1946, despite habitual Russian secrecy and censorship, Josef Stalin provided Gilmore with a world scoop when he responded to a series of questions posed by letter. AP, Breaking news, op. cit., p. 279.
Quoted in H. Schiller, “The diplomacy of cultural domination and the free flow of information”, in J. S. Yadava, Politics of news: third world perspective, New Delhi: Concept, 1984.
Bret archives, Paris.
L. Rollin, “Les agences de presse”, Problêmes et techniques de presse, Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris, Paris: 1948., pp. 253–273.
Cf. W. Hannigan, K. Johnstone, Picture Machine: The Rise of American Newspictures New York: Abrams, 2004, on UPI “pix”.
Ph. Paquet, “Un combat pour la Chine”, Taiwan-Information, I November 1995. Marcuse’s subsequent career is discussed , infra.
Cf. infra and D. Campbell , Magic mistress: a 30-year affair with Reuters, London: Tagman, 2000.
In the US, it was argued that McCarthy proved masterly in providing the press with slanted facts.
London: Fourth Estate Classic House, 1990.
- World War II and the Cold War: News in a Worldwide Age of Censorship and Propaganda
Michael B. Palmer
- Chapter 6