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Negotiating in the Press

American Journalism and Diplomacy, 1918-1919

Joseph R. Hayden

Publication Year: 2010

Negotiating in the Press offers a new interpretation of an otherwise dark moment in American journalism. Rather than emphasize the familiar story of lost journalistic freedom during World War I, Joseph R. Hayden describes the press’s newfound power in the war’s aftermath—that seminal moment when journalists discovered their ability to help broker peace talks. He examines the role of the American press at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919, looking at journalists’ influence on the peace process and their relationship to heads of state and other delegation members. Challenging prevailing historical accounts that assume the press was peripheral to the quest for peace, Hayden demonstrates that journalists instead played an integral part in the talks, by serving as “public ambassadors.” During the late 1910s, as World War I finally came to a close, American journalists and diplomats found themselves working in unlikely proximity, with correspondents occasionally performing diplomatic duties and diplomats sometimes courting publicity. The efforts of both groups to facilitate the peace talks at Versailles arose amidst the vision of a “new diplomacy,” one characterized by openness, information sharing, and public accountability. Using evidence from memoirs, official records, and contemporary periodicals, Hayden reveals that participants in the Paris Peace Conference continually wrestled with ideas about the roles of the press and, through the press, the people. American journalists reported on an abundance of information in Paris, and negotiators could not resist the useful leverage that publicity provided. Peacemaking via publicity, a now-obscure dimension of progressive statecraft, provided a powerful ideological ethos. It hinted at dynamically altered roles for journalists and diplomats, offered hope for a world desperate for optimism and order, and, finally, suggested that the fruits of America’s great age of reform might be shared with a Europe exhausted by war. The peace conference of 1919, Hayden demonstrates, marked a decisive stage in the history of American journalism, a coming of age for many news organizations. By detailing what journalists did before, during, and after the Paris talks, he tells us a great deal about how the negotiators and the Wilson administration worked throughout 1919. Ultimately, he provides a richer integrative view of peacemaking as a whole. An engaging analysis of diplomacy and the Fourth Estate, Negotiating in the Press offers a fascinating look at how leading nations democratized foreign policy a century ago and ushered in the dawn of public diplomacy.

Published by: Louisiana State University Press

Series: Media and Public Affairs


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pp. c-vi


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pp. vii-viii


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pp. ix-xii

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pp. 1-14

How do mass media institutions affect the making of peace? What happens when reporters and diplomats cross paths during international summitry? This study examines the role of the American press at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919, looking at journalists’ influence on the peace process and their relationship to heads of state and other delegation...

Part 1: The War of Words

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01 Federal Power and Publicity

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pp. 17-33

America’s entrance into the Great War required a concerted national effort to prepare citizens for a level of bloodshed not seen since the days of the Civil War and for technological and logistical challenges simply without parallel in human history. World War I was the world’s first experience with “total war,” with conflict that would demand the entire resources...

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02 The New Presidency

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pp. 34-40

Numerous signs—Wilson’s creation of the CPI, the unprecedented growth of executive publicity generally, the auxiliary diplomatic group known as The Inquiry, even the establishment of censorship —all exemplified the progressive zeal for bold executive action in the realm of information management. Most historians have excelled in disregarding...

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03 The New Diplomacy

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pp. 41-50

Publicity and public opinion, indeed democratic rhetoric generally, would come to matter much even to as improbable a group of citizens as diplomats, a class of folk with an obviously precarious “image problem” during the war. High casualties, scant progress, and escalating costs tempted Westerners in 1915 and 1916 to blame their diplomats for the cessation...

Part 2: Professionalizing Journalism

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04 The Professionalization of Journalism

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pp. 53-67

Excitement about the new diplomacy spread quickly among journalists, who could not fail to notice the self-serving benefits in a cult of publicity. But writers and reporters also sincerely believed in the democratic value of such a movement. At the heart of diplomatic reform, in other words, lay an acknowledged tribute to public opinion and public...

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05 Woodrow Wilson and the Press

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pp. 68-78

At this height of the movement for professionalization in journalism, a select group of professional hopefuls and a pedigreed former college professor embarked on an often difficult working relationship. Wilson’s attitude toward public information was ambivalent, and his relationship with the press was a complicated one. Despite his approval of the...

Part 3: Rekindling Professionalism

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06 "The Great Adventure"

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pp. 81-112

Wartime tensions between the president and the press made the Paris Peace Conference appear to be something of a respite and, at the same time, a thrilling new opportunity as well. Journalists who were tired of the war, the restrictions, the rhetoric, the same old scenery, could look forward to a striking departure from the ordinary. Those...

Part 4: Confrontation and Stability

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07 "The American Newspaper Men ... Went Bolshevik"

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pp. 115-127

America’s news correspondents came to Europe in the winter of 1918– 1919 filled with optimism and a high degree of purpose. As they embarked upon their postwar duties, many individuals looked upon the peace conference as a professional opportunity for the press to assert itself prominently in the diplomatic resolution of World War I, as a chance...

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08 Routines

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pp. 128-139

Having gotten off to an unsettling and controversial start, the conference placed immediate demands on the press. The first challenge was the business of simply getting information, either the news or the “color stuff” (depending upon the correspondent’s specialty),1 not a simple affair given the conference’s early firestorm over publicity. After preparing...

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09 Reaction

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pp. 140-147

What did American correspondents think of the work they were doing in Paris? How did they like it? Perhaps their strongest emotional reaction to their experience in Paris was a feeling of pride in doing important work and doing that work around important people. These feelings and experiences, especially early on, would have a profound impact...

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10 Relationships

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pp. 148-163

The role of the American press at the Paris Peace Conference was shaped to a large extent by what Woodrow Wilson and the U.S. delegation did or did not do in the way of publicity. But that role was not altogether determined by American diplomats, nor would it have been fundamentally changed if it were so determined. For no less than other delegations,...

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11 Participation

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pp. 164-186

Participation is a fuzzy, subjective concept. If we define it, as the dictionary does, as joining in or sharing in something, then we are still left with the question: Did journalists join in or share in the experience of making peace? The answer is complicated because while journalists may have regarded themselves as participants, diplomats may not have accorded...

Part 5: The Democratic Din of Public Opinion

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12 Anti-Treaty Opposition

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pp. 189-200

For the most part, the close-up encounter between American reporters and diplomats in Paris ended once the Germans signed the treaty in June. That result was mainly circumstantial. Some correspondents stayed on in European posts or prepared to cover the developing organization of the League of Nations, but most came home for a well-earned rest. The experiment...

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13 The Pro-Treaty Campaign

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pp. 201-212

Animated discussion of an international league was lacking throughout most of the war, all the belligerents focusing on the fighting at hand rather than the negotiation somewhere down the road. Discussion that did seep out before the armistice was necessarily sketchy. As victory loomed for the Allies, however, articles began to appear more frequently, then...

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14 The Printers' Strike and Other Distractions

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pp. 213-217

In addition to an active campaign seeking to dispute the league’s supposed virtues, discredit the president, and vilify the treaty, the coalition of forces led by Lodge also benefited indirectly from all publicity unrelated to the issues at hand. In other words, any diversion away from talk about internationalism and the new diplomacy made selling the league, and...

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15 The Press and the Senate

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pp. 218-225

The majority of newspaper correspondents covering the ratification battle in the Senate were not, as a rule, the same journalists who had been to Paris to cover the treaty’s formulation. Robert B. Smith of the Chicago Tribune, Carter Field and Edmund Taylor of the New York Tribune, and John B. Pratt of the New York Times, for example, had been in...

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pp. 226-234

Despite their many disappointments, journalists helped to “make” the peace in 1918–1919 almost as much as statesmen did. Their part was different in kind but not in degree, for the press of all belligerent countries prepared the way for the cessation of hostilities by its particular espousal of peace demands, pressured the delegates to take certain stances at...


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pp. 235-282


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pp. 283-308


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pp. 309-316

E-ISBN-13: 9780807136669
Print-ISBN-13: 9780807135150

Page Count: 328
Publication Year: 2010

Series Title: Media and Public Affairs