“At the Service of the Government": American Journalists in the Great War and the Agent Model of Government-Press Relations
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Manship School of Mass Communication
This study examines the ways in which American journalists operated as agents of government during the Great War. The origins of close media and government cooperation are often dated to the Cold War Era, when the CIA recruited top journalists to plant propaganda and gather intelligence. Upon closer review, original research shows that these cooperative relationships date back to the Great War. At a time when modern bureaucracy, modern journalism, and modern expectations of the press’ independence developed side by side, journalists engaged as informants and publicity agents for the U.S. government.
A systematic analysis of memoirs by journalists and an examination of their personal papers in archives show how closely elite journalists were tied to a number of government officials and government missions. This cooperation was characterized not simply by friendly exchanges of information or even positive spin on war stories, but by journalists accepting public and secret government assignments and offering their total cooperation to government officials. While scholars have documented the CIA-press collusion in great detail, they have paid little attention to the government-press cooperation of the Great War. No comparable study has documented the systematic, close cooperative relationships between journalists and government officials during the Great War. In addition, the models of modern government-press relations put forth by scholars do not account for these cooperative relationships.
This study, therefore, seeks to accomplish two main goals: 1) To describe and contextualize the origins of the American press’ extensive cooperation with government officials in matters of foreign affairs 2) To build a new descriptive model, what I call the Agent Model, to explain the ways in which journalists willingly went to work for the U.S. government.
McCune, Meghan Menard, "“At the Service of the Government": American Journalists in the Great War and the Agent Model of Government-Press Relations" (2021). LSU Doctoral Dissertations. 5649.
Hamilton, John Maxwell
Available for download on Thursday, August 17, 2028