Public Opinion and Foreign Policy

By Lester Markel; Council on Foreign Relations. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER NINE
ASSIGNMENT FOR THE PRESS

By C. D. Jackson

AMERICAN MOVIES are seen by millions of Europeans. News gathered by American wire services is printed in many hundreds of European newspapers. American newspapers, magazines and books are on sale in most European countries.

All this adds up to a vast amount of American private activity in Europe that affects public opinion, particularly the opinions of many Europeans who are not reached by our official propaganda. Although this activity is privately financed, it is a fundamental part, in some countries the most important part, of the whole complex of activities which can help to make Americans better understood abroad.

In this book it has already been argued -- and, it is hoped, demonstrated -- that in the cold war of words all our deeds abroad, all our writings, all our publications, all our expressions of thought must be weighed according to their propaganda impact. That is why all private activities affecting public opinion abroad have, in effect, a propaganda aspect, using the word without an invidious sense and in its true meaning.1 That is why in the Economic Recovery Plan specific provision was made for helping to promote the circulation of American publications and American ideas in Europe.

Because of this propaganda aspect, private activity affecting public opinion abroad places a large responsibility on those who conduct it. They can do much to create an honest and helpful impression of America, or, by misusing

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1
See Chapter One, p. 17.

-180-

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