World War I -- Life Histories/Section 019/Elmer Roberts

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Elmer Roberts

Overview[edit]

Elmer Roberts was an Associated Press correspondent in Berlin German from 1900 to 1914, as well as the chief of the Associated Press office in Paris, France, from 1914 to 1927

Biography[edit]

Early Life[edit]

Elmer Roberts was born on April 7, 1863 at Lagro, Indiana[1]. "He began his work as a journalist in 1885"[2]. He worked for newspapers including The Terre Haute Express, The Peru Republican, and several other publications in New York and Washington[3]. Roberts eventually worked for The Jacksonville Citizen in Florida, where he would eventually meet his wife.

Roberts was wed to the former Claire Julia Beauclerc Livingston of Florida at St. John’s Episcopal Church on March 12th 1896. Claire accompanied Roberts in his travels for work throughout their lives.

In March of 1897 Roberts joined The Associated Press as the New York State wire editor. Roberts was sent to Jamaica at the break of the Spanish-American war in April 1898 in order to "report on information of the operations of the south coast of the island"[4].

Roberts was then sent to Cuba for "seven months to report on the founding of the Cuban Republic"[5]. Roberts and other American reporters found difficulty reporting while in Cuba as the Cuban government often prevented journalists from entering certain areas and instructed local reporters not to talk to members of the AP.

After his years of reporting in the Caribbean, Roberts moved to London to work for the AP in 1900. Two years later Roberts became the Associated Press foreign correspondent in Berlin, Germany.

During the War[edit]

Roberts was made the chief of the Associated Press office in Paris, France on January 7, 1911. His work here mostly included dictating what stories were published, where his reporters were looking for stories, and ensuring his branch was on top of all of the most important news. Roberts often received correspondence from AP workers in America dictating to him what stories should be covered and complaining about other news sources being faster.

During the WWI, Roberts and his staff reported all the defeats and victories of the troops. Roberts also kept an extensive record of the happenings of the war in a personal journal.

After the war Roberts attended the Washington Arms Conference of 1922 with the French delegation[6]. Roberts continued to work for the AP for several more years before retiring in 1929.

Claire Roberts died in November of 1929 after accompanying Elmer on all of his travels[7]. Roberts then died on November 18th, 1937 after battling with poor health for several years.


Social Issues[edit]

Censorship[edit]

During WWI, many journalists were faced with obstacles of law when attempting to publish their work. Britain, France, and the United States all imposed strict censorship on the media during WWI. Some countries, including the United States, even went as far as censoring the letters that their soldiers sent home from the war.

Britain, France, and the United States first tried to censor the news by preventing journalists from obtaining information by making it illegal for journalists to go to the frontline. Many journalist snuck into war areas anyway, risking arrest. Most governments eventually allowed journalists to travel to the frontline, but continued their censorship by filtering what was published[8].

Censorship was used by governments during wartime in order to paint their country in a favorable light. Governments wanted to prevent the public from learning of the true horrors of the war as they feared their people would turn on them. What was published by the media was used as a form of government propaganda in order to win the peoples’ favor. However, some journalists who desired the truth to be published proved troublesome for governments, leading to censorship.

Journalists on the Front[edit]

Many journalists served as war correspondents during WWI. They would travel to the frontline to collect stories, photographs, and accounts of the battles and hardships of war.

At the beginning of the war many journalists were not allowed on the frontline due to the strict censorship that many governments imposed during the war[9]. Eventually censorship was loosened and soldiers and journalists alike risked their lives on the frontline. Many news companies would send reporters to the frontline to find information other news companies did not have, risking both arrest and their lives[10]. However, some journalists were able to collect information in safer locations, such as troop hospitals.

References[edit]

  1. “Elmer Roberts, 74, Journalist, Dead.” New York Times. November 18, 1937. Page 23. Print. 18 February 2015. <http://search.proquest.com/docview/102153741/569C1CD124AB4646PQ/1?accountid=14244
  2. “Elmer Roberts, 74, Journalist, Dead.” New York Times. November 18, 1937. Page 23. Print. 18 February 2015. <http://search.proquest.com/docview/102153741/569C1CD124AB4646PQ/1?accountid=14244
  3. “Elmer Roberts, 74, Journalist, Dead.” New York Times. November 18, 1937. Page 23. Print. 18 February 2015. <http://search.proquest.com/docview/102153741/569C1CD124AB4646PQ/1?accountid=14244
  4. “Elmer Roberts, 74, Journalist, Dead.” New York Times. November 18, 1937. Page 23. Print. 18 February 2015. <http://search.proquest.com/docview/102153741/569C1CD124AB4646PQ/1?accountid=14244
  5. “Elmer Roberts, 74, Journalist, Dead.” New York Times. November 18, 1937. Page 23. Print. 18 February 2015. <http://search.proquest.com/docview/102153741/569C1CD124AB4646PQ/1?accountid=14244
  6. “Elmer Roberts, 74, Journalist, Dead.” New York Times. November 18, 1937. Page 23. Print. 18 February 2015. <http://search.proquest.com/docview/102153741/569C1CD124AB4646PQ/1?accountid=14244
  7. “Paris Mourns Mrs. Elmer Roberts.” New York Times. November 6, 1929. Page 25. Print. 18 February 2015. <http://search.proquest.com/hnpnewyorktimes/docview/104866969/fulltextPDF/448B418CFC594BE5PQ/2?accountid=14244>
  8. Greenslade, Roy. (27 July 2013) "First world war: how state and press kept truth off the front page" <http://www.theguardian.com/media/2014/jul/27/first-world-war-state-press-reporting> Retrieved 20 March 2015.
  9. Gardner, Frank. "Why were journalists threatened with execution in WWI?" <http://www.bbc.co.uk/guides/zs9bwmn>. Retrieved 20 March 2015.
  10. "War, Journalism, and History: War Correspondents in the Two World Wars" Intro. <http://site.ebrary.com/lib/uncch/reader.action?docID=10620452>. Retrieved 20 March 2015.