Routledge, 2014; first published by Garland, 1984
American Newsfilm, 1914–1919:
The Underexposed War
Routledge Library Editions: The First World War. World War One was the first conflict in which film became a significant instrument of propaganda. This study, based primarily on research in the motion picture trade press, starts by examining the background to the war for the movie industry—the coverage of previous conflicts and the growth of the newsreel. It examines the experiences of American cameramen who worked in the war zone: their efforts to gain access to the front, to overcome problems ranging from unreliable equipment to poor lighting conditions to evading censorship, and how this shaped the coverage of the war. The demands of the box office led to wildly imaginative publicity claims and unethical practices: lacking genuine footage, photographers faked or re-staged scenes. Newsfilm became an instrument of propaganda: Britain Prepared engaged The Fighting Germans on movie screens. After the U.S. entered the war in 1917, film sanctified the Allied cause, downplaying military setbacks and urging patriotic citizens to buy Liberty Bonds. Although technology has changed, the issues raised by film in World War One have been mirrored in every major conflict in the 20th and 21st centuries.
See World War One Newsfilm for a description of my research.