1917 April 27
Article from the Arkansas Democrat about proposed censorship plans of the press.
CENSORSHIP OF NEWS
The Arkansas Democrat has cheerfully accepted the sugges-
tions of the federal officials at Washington concerning the with-
holding of news giving information about the movements of troop
trains or other facts of military value.
A number of stories which have been received in this office
from correspondents telling of the routeing of soldiers to different
parts of the country through Arkansas have not been published
in the Arkansas Democrat, because such information would be of
military value and this paper desires to co-operate in a patriotic
way with President Wilson's plans.
On the other hand, a rigid censorship has been clamped on
at Washington which this paper fears may not be for the good
of the nation.
We believe that the withholding of many facts is justified,
but other items of news have been held back which this paper
believes the public is entitled to have.
There has even been a censorship of photographs which
apparently could have no military value by the broadest stretch
of the imagination.
The Arkansas Democrat believes that there is danger of the
federal government carrying the censorship too far, as was done
by the British government at the beginning of the war.
Publicity of the right sort is an aid to the government and
helps in recruiting for the army and navy.
The danger of the censorship, the Arkansas Democrat
believes, is not so much in the censorship idea, but in the men
who have been appointed to have charge of the censoring.
George Creel has been selected by President Wilson as the
chief censor of the war news. Those who know Mr. Creel have
nothing to say against him as a man, but it is pointed out by
Washington newspaper men that Mr. Creel is primarily a maga-
zine writer. He is not a big newspaper executive, although he has
had newspaper experience.
The position of chief censor for the United States is an
extremely important one, and it had been hoped that the president
would select for the place a man of tested judgment and broad
executive experience in newspaper work.
The newspapers of the country represent popular sentiment.
They want to do all that they can to help the government in this
titanic conflict with Germany. They are giving their time and
space in efforts to aid recruiting. But, as representatives of the
people, the newspapers desire an interlligent censorship and one
that appreciates the need of furnishing the people with the news
of a battle the day the government receives the information and
not several days after the event has occurred, as has often been
done by the British censors.
It may be that Mr. Creel and his associates will give satisfac-
tion, but the Arkansas Democrat - without reflecting on Mr.
Creel's ability - believes that a more competent executive could
have been secured for the place. It is probable one of the great
editors of New York, Washington or of other large Eastern cities
would have been glad to take the position of chief censor as a
patriotic act, and see that the censorship - while not holding back
information that would hurt the country - at the same time gives
newspapers facts that they are entitled to have.
World War I, 1914-1918; Freedom of speech; Sedition
MFILM NEWS 000432 Roll 85
Newspaper microfilm collection
Arkansas State Archives
Arkansas State Archives
"Censorship of News," Arkansas Democrat, April 27, 1917, Newspaper microfilm collection, Arkansas State Archives, Little Rock, Arkansas.
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