A Popular History of The Great War/Volume 1/Page 130

Proofread. The contents of this page have been proofread at least once for errors and inconsistencies.
FRANCE IN WARTIME


receipts were drawn, were suspended or suppressed. On the other hand, the requisition of means of transport rendered extremely difficult the delivery of enormous quantities of paper, which they required eyery day, not to mention the fact that the manufactories, losing all their younger personnel, had to relax their production. The less rich appeared in the form of a single sheet of two pages, sometimes of reduced size, while the more opulent retained a double sheet of four pages. The problem before them was to maintain their circulation; hence the consecutive editions. Soon the result of these noisy criers and sensational placards was evident. Public opinion grew visibly nervous and agitated by this flood of news, in which it was quite impossible to distinguish between the true and the false, and ended by believing in the most absurd rumours and the most far-fetched legends.

To cut short a state of affairs which led to abuse and might involve dangerous results the military authority did not hesitate to avail itself of the state of siege and to take energetic measures. It decided to publish three official communications a day (soon reduced to two) relating to war news, and that this official news only should be inserted to the exclusion of any other. It forbade the newspapers to appear with big headlines, to be cried in the streets, to be advertised by posters. No newspaper was authorised to issue more than one edition a day, which was bound to appear always at the same hour—an hour which the journal was invited by the military authority to fix for itself; no exception was tolerated.

Finally, every publication, whether daily, weekly, or monthly, including books and pamphlets, must be submitted to the censorship of the military authority. Every newspaper must in convenient time communicate to the Press Bureau its complete impression—that is, the entire proofs of the paper, exactly as the letterpress would appear—nor must any modification be made except such as were demanded by the censorship. Protests being useless, the press submitted to this new régime, with the happiest results for public opinion. Subsequently the censorship was extended to cover political comments, and the government abused this easy means at its disposal for suppressing criticism, but it is worth noting that this abuse proceeded from the civil government and not from the military authority. Disobedience to the orders of the censorship was severely punished,

← 129   ·   130   ·   131 →
(page index)