The Office of Censorship
‘The rigid censorship on journalism in Europe
brings the American press into close relationship with the Embassy. The news we
bring to the Embassy require unusual discretion and confidence so that
the American public receive accurate information, while avoiding any
improprieties against the countries involved in the conflict.
This censorship, sometimes incredibly
stupid, is responsible for a great many myths. “Beating
the censor” is a gleeful game for some
correspondents until it becomes clear that the censor always wins, and can even
suppress their activities altogether. The “half truths” of the official
communications is also responsible for mixing the real news with fiction.
But finally, we are going officially to the
front! No sentry can stop us. No officer can
“detain” us—there is no fear of prison at our journey’s end. It’s been
decided by Joffre himself! He appointed a Captain, whose orders is to
remain with us even after our return to Paris, where he will place the magic visa
of the Etat Major upon our articles, thus preventing any delays at the regular Bureau de Censure.’
Wythe Williams, WW1 American journalist, who became so frustrated with the censorship that he volunteered to drive an ambulance – “intead of sitting around in the Paris bureau”.
Passed by the Censor, the Experience of an American Newspaper Man in
France – Photos: 1916, Paris, The office of Censorship. Gallica. More photos here.