Barriers Down

By Kent Cooper
KENT COOPER, general manager of the Associated Press, tells in this book how he led the AP fight against the control that Reuters, the British news agency, exercised over the reporting of world news. The story begins in the 1870’s, when Paul Julius Reuter, who had organized a news agency in England, agreed with Havas, the French agency, and Wolff, the German agency, to divide up the world into spheres of influence for the purpose of news dissemination. Privately owned, they were greatly influenced if not controlled by their respective governments. Reuters dominated the cartel.
For forty years the world received only the news of America that England, France, and Germany wanted it to receive. Much of the foreign news Americans read was distorted by the national points of view of England, France, and Germany. This fact, in Mr. Cooper’s view, accounts for the belief abroad, until comparatively recently, that life in America was a round of lynchings, murders, and Hollywood scandals, interspersed with Indian uprisings.
The story is told in the lucid, objective style that has made the Associated Press famous. Perhaps Mr. Cooper spins out the tale unduly, and perhaps there is a surfeit of documentation. But as a casebook for the files of the Associated Press and students of the detailed organization of world news agencies, it is undoubtedly valuable. F. W. N.