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"You cannot single out the newspapers of Europe and say that they alone are responsible for the present disorder in Europe," said Mr. James E. King of the editorial staff of the Boston Evening Transcript when asked to estimate the influence the propaganda published in European papers has had in bringing about the present situation of disturbance and distrust on the continent of Europe.
"You cannot call the newspapers the willful disturbers of an otherwise peaceful Europe. The conditions of Europe influence the newspapers even more than the newspapers influence the condition of Europe. The journals of Europe--and by that I mean continental Europe, to the exclusion of England whose standards are very like our own,--are but a part of the entire continental system. They suffer from its inadequacies and they are effected by its prejudices. They are the reflection of the continental state of mind.
"There is but little truth and much propaganda in the majority of European papers I will admit. In any continental city it would be necessary to read eight or nine different newspapers each day in order to obtain a true and comprehensive idea of conditions in the world. This misrepresentation has worked harm in Europe. And yet I do not believe that facts have been misrepresented with a vicious desire to create trouble in the world.
Conception of News is Different
"The European conception of news is entirely different from that in England and America. Here each newspaper through its own efforts and through the Associated Press, to which it contributes, tries to set before its readers the complete facts of every important occurrence throughout the world. Each paper tries to give its readers a true understanding of conditions as they really appear from every angle.
"The summer at the Willamstown conference, Major General Allen, who had just returned from his command of the American army of occupation on the Rhine, gave a speech describing his suggestions for a solution of the Rhine-land situation. "I have a plan" he said and declared that it had been submitted to Secretary of State Hughes for approval.
"The reporter who was covering General Allen's speech for the Associated Press, recorded the Williamstown address, and then wired to Washington, where other Associated Press reporters obtained from the State Department a statement on General Allen's plan. The next morning an article was published in the New York papers, with reports from both Williamstown and Washington.
Efficient News Service in U. S.
"That is an example of the newsgathering efficiency of the papers in America. On the continent of Europe there is far less coordinated effort for comprehensive news. Despatches are short and incomplete. There is little cooperation among the newspapers.
"All this combines to render European news service inadequate and misinforming. I believe that a man in the despatch room of the New York Tinies could learn more about conditions in Europe from the Associated Press despatches than could one who lived in a European city and read the European newspapers.
"Besides its fragmentary incompleteness, the news of each nation is influenced by the politics of that nation. Editors of every nationality feel bound to follow and support their government through thick and thin. They give their blind support to nearly every governmental policy, no matter how harmful it may be.
"In America, even a newspaper, as definitely Republican as the Transcript, does not hesitate to criticize the Republican party. But on the continent there is little of this healthy criticism.
"Both these facts,--that the news of Europe is incomplete and that it is politically riddled--have contributed to the national misunderstandings of Europe. But that is not the sole cause. It must be remembered that national misunderstandings existed long before newspapers.
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