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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

The Media and WW1


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In modern wars we tend to get little day to day coverage of events but plenty of editorial type comment on the general conduct. In WW1, the media probably amounted to just newspapers and the odd film. Is there a book that covers press attitudes to the war? How much would they differ from modern press coverage? Phil B

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  • 2 weeks later...


Try The First Casualty (1975, updated 1989) by Phillip Knightley (sub-titled From the Crimea to the Falklands: The War Correspondent as Hero, Propagandist and Myth Maker

Three chapters cover 'our' period - The last war - 1914-1918; Enter America 1917-1918; and The remedy for Bolshevism in Russia - 1917-1919

An indication of Knightley's view:

To enable the war to go on, the people had to be steeled for further sacrifices, and this could not be done if the full story of what was happening on the Western Front was known. And so began a great conspiracy. More deliberate lies were told than in any other period of history, and the whole apparatus of the state went into action to suppress the truth...

The willingness of newspaper proprietors to accept [censorship under the Defence of the Realm Act] and their co-operation in disseminating propaganda brought them the rewards of social rank and political power ...

[british war correspondents] kept an inspired silence about the slaughter, and allowed themselves to be absorbed by the propaganda machine ...


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