The Committee on Public Information

The Committee on Public Information

On April 6, 1917, the American gesture to enter WWI left the government with domestic concerns. With no regulations on what was fed to the public through the often sensationalized news, it created an absence of public unity. With the public split on their feelings of the war, Woodrow Wilson made a drastic decision to bring the country to support the war efforts. On April 13, 1917, Wilson created the Committee on Public Information to promote the war domestically while publicizing American war aims abroad. The creation of this committee would change the face of war coverage and would affect the media for decades, and even centuries, to come. George Creel, an outspoken critic of public censorship and a well known muckraking journalist, was put in control of the CPI. Although he did have strong animosity towards censorship at the hands of public servants, he disregarded his feelings and immediately took steps to limit damaging information leaking out to the public. The Committee quickly began to recruit a great deal from business, media, academia, and the even the art world. They soon organized and bused advertising techniques, combined with a knowledge of the human psyche, and waged the first large scale example of modern government war propaganda being fed to the public in order to gain support. As the war waged on, threats of German war propaganda began to rise. In response to the threat, the CPI implemented voluntary guidelines for both news and media, eventually prompting the Espionage Act of 1917 and the Sedition Act of 1918 to be passed. The committee did not have many powers granted to them, but they relied on their censorship powers and knowledge to entice reports to stay in their good graces. Many reports did so, although not necessarily having to in most cases, for fear of being outcasted from the CPI’s “inner circle of knowledge”. These actions of the CPI not only had a great affect on media as a wh…


Comments are closed.