Harriet Scharnberg “Das A und P der Propaganda: Associated Press und die nationalsozialistische Bildpublizistik” http://www.zeithistorische-forschungen.de/1-2016/id=5324
Philip Oltermann “Revealed: how Associated Press cooperated with the Nazis” http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/mar/30/associated-press-cooperation-nazis-revealed-germany-harriet-scharnberg
Coming just before Associated Press’s 170th anniversary in May, the newly discovered information raises not just difficult questions about the role AP played in allowing Nazi Germany to conceal its true face during Hitler’s first years in power, but also about the agency’s relationship with contemporary totalitarian regimes.
While the AP deal enabled the west to peek into a repressive society that may otherwise have been entirely hidden from view – for which Berlin correspondent Louis P Lochner won a Pulitzer in 1939 – the arrangement also enabled the Nazis to cover up some of its crimes. Scharnberg, a historian at Halle’s Martin Luther University, argued that AP’s cooperation with the Hitler regime allowed the Nazis to “portray a war of extermination as a conventional war”.
Approached with these allegations, AP said in a statement that Scharnberg’s report “describes both individuals and their activities before and during the war that were unknown to AP”, and that it is currently reviewing documents in and beyond its archives to “further our understanding of the period”.
An AP spokesperson told the Guardian: “As we continue to research this matter, AP rejects any notion that it deliberately ‘collaborated’ with the Nazi regime. An accurate characterisation is that the AP and other foreign news organisations were subjected to intense pressure from the Nazi regime from the year of Hitler’s coming to power in 1932 until the AP’s expulsion from Germany in 1941. AP management resisted the pressure while working to gather accurate, vital and objective news in a dark and dangerous time.”
In 2014, Washington-based website NK News alleged that top executives at AP had in 2011 “agreed to distribute state-produced North Korean propaganda through the AP name” in order to gain access to the highly profitable market of distributing picture material out of the totalitarian state*1 . The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea comes second from bottom in the current World Press Freedom Index.
A leaked draft agreement showed that AP was apparently willing to let the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) handpick one text and one photo journalist from its agitation and propaganda unit to work in its bureau*2. AP told the Guardian that “it would be presumptuous to assume ‘the draft’ has any significance”, but declined to disclose further information on the final agreement.
Significant events, reported in the international media, were not covered by AP’s Pyongyang bureau, such as the six-week public disappearance of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in September and October 2014, the November 2014 Sony Entertainment hack that had allegedly been orchestrated by a North Korean cyberwarfare agency*3, or a reports of a famine in South Hwanghae province in 2012.
When the French news agency Agence France-Presse signed an agreement to open a bureau in Pyongyang in January this year, AP’s former Pyongyang bureau chief Jean Lee commented that it was a sign of the regime’s “increased confidence in its ability to keep foreign journalists under control”*4.
The AP spokesperson denied that the agency submitted to censorship. “We do not run stories by the Korean Central News Agency or any government official before we publish them. At the same time, officials are free to grant or deny access or interviews.”
*1:Nate Thayer “The Associated Press in North Korea: A Potemkin news bureau?” https://www.nknews.org/2014/12/the-associated-press-in-north-korea-a-potemkin-news-bureau/
*3:See also http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20140903/1409678781 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20141203/1417627808 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20141205/1417707791 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20141220/1419092035 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20141222/1419262623