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Friday, January 12, 2007




THE media by which special pleaders transmit their messages to the public through propaganda include all the means by which people to-day transmit their ideas to one another. There is no means of human communication which may not also be a means of deliberate propaganda, because propaganda is simply the establishing of reciprocal understanding between an individual and a group.

The important point to the propagandist is that the relative value of the various instruments of propaganda, and their relation to the masses, are constantly changing. If he is to get full reach for his message he must take advantage of these shifts of value the instant they occur. Fifty years ago, the public meeting was a propaganda instrument par excellence. To-day it is difficult to get more than a handful of people to attend a public meeting unless extraordinary attractions are part of the program. The automobile takes them away from home, the radio keeps them in the home, the successive daily editions of the newspaper bring information to them in office or subway, and also they are sick of the ballyhoo of the rally.

Instead there are numerous other media of communication, some new, others old but so transformed that they have become virtually new. The newspaper, of course, remains always a primary medium for the transmission of opinions and ideas -- in other words, for propaganda.

It was not many years ago that newspaper editors resented what they called "the use of the news columns for propaganda purposes." Some editors would even kill a good story if they imagined its publication might benefit any one. This point of view is now largely abandoned. To-day the leading editorial offices take the view that the real criterion governing the publication or non-publication of matter which comes to the desk is its news value. The newspaper cannot assume, nor is it its function to assume, the responsibility of guaranteeing that what it publishes will not work out to somebody's interest.

There is hardly a single item in any daily paper, the publication of which does not, or might not, profit or injure somebody. That is the nature of news. What the newspaper does strive for is that the news which it publishes shall be accurate, and (since it must select from the mass of news material available) that it shall be of interest and importance to large groups of its readers.

In its editorial columns the newspaper is a personality, commenting upon things and events from its individual point of view. But in its news columns the typical modern American newspaper attempts to reproduce, with due regard to news interest, the outstanding events and opinions of the day. It does not ask whether a given item is propaganda or not. What is important is that it be news. And in the selection of news the editor is usually entirely independent. In the New York Times -- to take an outstanding example -- news is printed because of its news value and for no other reason. The Times editors determine with complete independence what is and what is not news. They brook no censorship. They are not influenced by any external pressure nor swayed by any values of expediency or opportunism. The conscientious editor on every newspaper realizes that his obligation to the public is news. The fact of its accomplishment makes it news.

If the public relations counsel can breathe the breath of life into an idea and make it take its place among other ideas and events, it will receive the public attention it merits. There can be no question of his "contaminating news at its source." He creates some of the day's events, which must compete in the editorial office with other events. Often the events which he creates may be specially acceptable to a newspaper's public and he may create them with that public in mind.

If important things of life to-day consist of transatlantic radiophone talks arranged by commercial telephone companies; if they consist of inventions that will be commercially advantageous to the men who market them; if they consist of Henry Fords with epoch-making cars -- then all this is news. The so-called flow of propaganda into the newspaper offices of the country may, simply at the editor's discretion, find its way to the waste basket. The source of the news offered to the editor should always be clearly stated and the facts accurately presented.

The situation of the magazines at the present moment, from the propagandist's point of view, is different from that of the daily newspapers. The average magazine assumes no obligation, as the newspaper does, to reflect the current news. It selects its material deliberately, in accordance with a continuous policy. It is not, like the newspaper, an organ of public opinion, but tends rather to become a propagandist organ, propagandizing for a particular idea, whether it be good housekeeping, or smart apparel, or beauty in home decoration, or debunking public opinion, or general enlightenment or liberalism or amusement. One magazine may aim to sell health; another, English gardens; another, fashionable men's wear; another, Nietzschean philosophy. In all departments in which the various magazines specialize, the public relations counsel may play an important part. For he may, because of his client's interest, assist them to create the events which further their propaganda.

A bank, in order to emphasize the importance of its women's department, may arrange to supply a leading women's magazine with a series of articles and advice on investments written by the woman expert in charge of this department.

The women's magazine in turn will utilize this new feature as a means of building additional prestige and circulation. The lecture, once a powerful means of influencing public opinion, has changed its value. The lecture itself may be only a symbol, a ceremony; its importance, for propaganda purposes, lies in the fact that it was delivered. Professor So-and-So, expounding an epoch-making invention, may speak to five hundred persons, or only fifty. His lecture, if it is important, will be broadcast; reports of it will appear in the newspapers; discussion will be stimulated. The real value of the lecture, from the propaganda point of view, is in its repercussion to the general public.

The radio is at present one of the most important tools of the propagandist. Its future development is uncertain.

It may compete with the newspaper as an advertising medium. Its ability to reach millions of persons simultaneously naturally appeals to the advertiser. And since the average advertiser has a limited appropriation for advertising, money spent on the radio will tend to be withdrawn from the newspaper. To what extent is the publisher alive to this new phenomenon? It is bound to come close to American journalism and publishing. Newspapers have recognized the advertising potentialities of the companies that manufacture radio apparatus, and of radio stores, large and small; and newspapers have accorded to the radio in their news and feature columns an importance relative to the increasing attention given by the public to radio. At the same time, certain newspapers have bought radio stations and linked them up with their news and entertainment distribution facilities, supplying these two features over the air to the public.

It is possible that newspaper chains will sell schedules of advertising space on the air and on paper. Newspaper chains will possibly contract with advertisers for circulation on paper and over the air. There are, at present, publishers who sell space in the air and in their columns, but they regard the two as separate ventures.

Large groups, political, racial, sectarian, economic or professional, are tending to control stations to propagandize their points of view. Or is it conceivable that America may adopt the English licensing system under which the listener, instead of the advertiser, pays?

Whether the present system is changed, the advertiser -- and propagandist -- must necessarily adapt himself to it. Whether, in the future, air space will be sold openly as such, or whether the message will reach the public in the form of straight entertainment and news, or as special programs for particular groups, the propagandist must be prepared to meet the conditions and utilize them.

The American motion picture is the greatest unconscious carrier of propaganda in the world to-day.

It is a great distributor for ideas and opinions. The motion picture can standardize the ideas and habits of a nation. Because pictures are made to meet market demands, they reflect, emphasize and even exaggerate broad popular tendencies, rather than stimulate new ideas and opinions. The motion picture avails itself only of ideas and facts which are in vogue. As the newspaper seeks to purvey news, it seeks to purvey entertainment.

Another instrument of propaganda is the personality. Has the device of the exploited personality been pushed too far? President Coolidge photographed on his vacation in full Indian regalia in company with full-blooded chiefs, was the climax of a greatly over-reported vacation. Obviously a public personality can be made absurd by misuse of the very mechanism which helped create it. Yet the vivid dramatization of personality will always remain one of the functions of the public relations counsel. The public instinctively demands a personality to typify a conspicuous corporation or enterprise.

There is a story that a great financier discharged a partner because he had divorced his wife. "But what," asked the partner, "have my private affairs to do with the banking business?" "If you are not capable of managing your own wife," was the reply, "the people will certainly believe that you are not capable of managing their money."

The propagandist must treat personality as he would treat any other objective fact within his province.

A personality may create circumstances, as Lindbergh created good will between the United States and Mexico. Events may create a personality, as the Cuban War created the political figure of Roosevelt. It is often difficult to say which creates the other. Once a public figure has decided what ends he wishes to achieve, he must regard himself objectively and present an outward picture of himself which is consistent with his real character and his aims.

There are a multitude of other avenues of approach to the public mind, some old, some new as television. No attempt will be made to discuss each one separately. The school may disseminate information concerning scientific facts. The fact that a commercial concern may eventually profit from a widespread understanding of its activities because of this does not condemn the dissemination of such information, provided that the subject merits study on the part of the students. If a baking corporation contributes pictures and charts to a school, to show how bread is made, these propaganda activities, if they are accurate and candid, are in no way reprehensible, provided the school authorities accept or reject such offers carefully on their educational merits.

It may be that a new product will be announced to the public by means of a motion picture of a parade taking place a thousand miles away. Or the manufacturer of a new jitney airplane may personally appear and speak in a million homes through radio and television. The man who would most effectively transmit his message to the public must be alert to make use of all the means of propaganda.

Undoubtedly the public is becoming aware of the methods which are being used to mold its opinions and habits. If the public is better informed about the processes of its own life, it will be so much the more receptive to reasonable appeals to its own interests. No matter how sophisticated, how cynical the public may become about publicity methods, it must respond to the basic appeals, because it will always need food, crave amusement, long for beauty, respond to leadership.

If the public becomes more intelligent in its commercial demands, commercial firms will meet the new standards. If it becomes weary of the old methods used to persuade it to accept a given idea or commodity, its leaders will present their appeals more intelligently.

Propaganda will never die out. Intelligent men must realize that propaganda is the modern instrument by which they can fight for productive ends and help to bring order out of chaos.


Art and Science (Propaganda 1928) Chapter 10 of 11



IN the education of the American public toward greater art appreciation, propaganda plays an important part. When art galleries seek to launch the canvases of an artist they should create public acceptance for his works. To increase public appreciation a deliberate propagandizing effort must be made. In art as in politics the minority rules, but it can rule only by going out to meet the public on its own ground, by understanding the anatomy of public opinion and utilizing it.

In applied and commercial art, propaganda makes greater opportunities for the artist than ever before. This arises from the fact that mass production reaches an impasse when it competes on a price basis only. It must, therefore, in a large number of fields create a field of competition based on esthetic values. Business of many types capitalizes the esthetic sense to increase markets and profits. Which is only another way of saying that the artist has the opportunity of collaborating with industry in such a way as to improve the public taste, injecting beautiful instead of ugly motifs into the articles of common use, and, furthermore, securing recognition and money for himself.

Propaganda can play a part in pointing out what is and what is not beautiful, and business can definitely help in this way to raise the level of American culture. In this process propaganda will naturally make use of the authority of group leaders whose taste and opinion are recognized. The public must be interested by means of associational values and dramatic incidents. New inspiration, which to the artist may be a very technical and abstract kind of beauty, must be made vital to the public by association with values which it recognizes and responds to.

For instance, in the manufacture of American silk, markets are developed by going to Paris for inspiration. Paris can give American silk a stamp of authority which will aid it to achieve definite position in the United States.

The following clipping from the New York Times of February 16, 1925, tells the story from an actual incident of this sort:

"Copyright, 1925, by THE NEW YORK TIMES COMPANY -- Special Cable to THE NEW YORK TIMES.

"PARIS, Feb. 15. -- For the first time in history, American art materials are to be exhibited in the Decorative Arts Section of the Louvre Museum.

"The exposition opening on May 26th with the Minister of Fine Arts, Paul Leon, acting as patron, will include silks from Cheney Brothers, South Manchester and New York, the designs of which were based on the inspiration of Edgar Brandt, famous French iron worker, the modern Bellini, who makes wonderful art works from iron.

"M. Brandt designed and made the monumental iron doors of the Verdun war memorial. He has been asked to assist and participate in this exposition, which will show France the accomplishments of American industrial art.

"Thirty designs inspired by Edgar Brandt's work are embodied in 2,500 yards of printed silks, tinsels and cut velvets in a hundred colors. . . .

"These 'prints ferronnieres' are the first textiles to show the influence of the modern master, M. Brandt. The silken fabrics possess a striking composition, showing characteristic Brandt motifs which were embodied in the tracery of large designs by the Cheney artists who succeeded in translating the iron into silk, a task which might appear almost impossible. The strength and brilliancy of the original design is enhanced by the beauty and warmth of colour."

The result of this ceremony was that prominent department stores in New York, Chicago and other cities asked to have this exhibition. They tried to mold the public taste in conformity with the idea which had the approval of Paris. The silks of Cheney Brothers -- a commercial product produced in quantity -- gained a place in public esteem by being associated with the work of a recognized artist and with a great art museum.

The same can be said of almost any commercial product susceptible of beautiful design. There are few products in daily use, whether furniture, clothes, lamps, posters, commercial labels, book jackets, pocketbooks or bathtubs which are not subject to the laws of good taste.

In America, whole departments of production are being changed through propaganda to fill an economic as well as an esthetic need. Manufacture is being modified to conform to the economic need to satisfy the public demand for more beauty. A piano manufacturer recently engaged artists to design modernist pianos. This was not done because there existed a widespread demand for modernist pianos. Indeed, the manufacturer probably expected to sell few. But in order to draw attention to pianos one must have something more than a piano. People at tea parties will not talk about pianos; but they may talk about the new modernist piano.

When Secretary Hoover, three years ago, was asked to appoint a commission to the Paris Exposition of Decorative Arts, he did so. As Associate Commissioner I assisted in the organizing of the group of important business leaders in the industrial art field who went to Paris as delegates to visit and report on the Exposition. The propaganda carried on for the aims and purposes of the Commission undoubtedly had a widespread effect on the attitude of Americans towards art in industry; it was only a few years later that the modern art movement penetrated all fields of industry.

Department stores took it up. R. H. Macy & Company held an Art-in-Trades Exposition, in which the Metropolitan Museum of Art collaborated as adviser. Lord & Taylor sponsored a Modern Arts Exposition, with foreign exhibitors. These stores, coming closely in touch with the life of the people, performed a propagandizing function in bringing to the people the best in art as it related to these industries. The Museum at the same time was alive to the importance of making contact with the public mind, by utilizing the department store to increase art appreciation.

Of all art institutions the museum suffers most from the lack of effective propaganda. Most present-day museums have the reputation of being morgues or sanctuaries, whereas they should be leaders and teachers in the esthetic life of the community. They have little vital relation to life.

The treasures of beauty in a museum need to be interpreted to the public, and this requires a propagandist. The housewife in a Bronx apartment doubtless feels little interest in an ancient Greek vase in the Metropolitan Museum. Yet an artist working with a pottery firm may adapt the design of this vase to a set of china and this china, priced low through quantity production, may find its way to that Bronx apartment, developing unconsciously, through its fine line and color, an appreciation of beauty. Some American museums feel this responsibility. The Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York rightly prides itself on its million and a quarter of visitors in the year 1926; on its efforts to dramatize and make visual the civilizations which its various departments reveal; on its special lectures, its story hours, its loan collections of prints and photographs and lantern slides, its facilities offered to commercial firms in the field of applied art, on the outside lecturers who are invited to lecture in its auditorium and on the lectures given by its staff to outside organizations -- and on the free chamber concerts given in the museum under the direction of David Mannes, which tend to dramatize the museum as a home of beauty. Yet that is not the whole of the problem. It is not merely a question of making people come to the museum. It is also a question of making the museum, and the beauty which it houses, go to the people.

The museum's accomplishments should not be evaluated merely in terms of the number of visitors. Its function is not merely to receive visitors, but to project iself and what it stands for in the community which it serves.

The museum can stand in its community for a definite esthetic standard which can, by the help of intelligent propaganda, permeate the daily lives of all its neighbors. Why should not a museum establish a museum council of art, to establish standards in home decoration, in architecture, and in commercial production? or a research board for applied arts? Why should not the museum, instead of merely preserving the art treasures which it possesses, quicken their meaning in terms which the general public understands?

A recent annual report of an art museum in one of the large cities of the United States, says: "An underlying characteristic of an Art Museum like ours must be its attitude of conservatism, for after all its first duty is to treasure the great achievements of men in the arts and sciences."

Is that true? Is not another important duty to interpret the models of beauty which it possesses? If the duty of the museum is to be active it must study how best to make its message intelligible to the community which it serves. It must boldly assume esthetic leadership.

As in art, so in science, both pure and applied. Pure science was once guarded and fostered by learned societies and scientific associations. Now pure science finds support and encouragement also in industry. Many of the laboratories in which abstract research is being pursued are now connected with some large corporation, which is quite willing to devote hundreds of thousands of dollars to scientific study, for the sake of one golden invention or discovery which may emerge from it.

Big business of course gains heavily when the invention emerges. But at that very moment it assumes the responsibility of placing the new invention at the service of the public. It assumes also the responsibility of interpreting its meaning to the public.

The industrial interests can furnish to the schools, the colleges and the postgraduate university courses the exact truth concerning the scientific progress of our age. They not only can do so; they are under obligation to do so. Propaganda as an instrument of commercial competition has opened opportunities to the inventor and given great stimulus to the research scientist. In the last five or ten years, the successes of some of the larger corporations have been so outstanding that the whole field of science has received a tremendous impetus. The American Telephone and Telegraph Company, the Western Electric Company, the General Electric Company, the Westinghouse Electric Company and others have realized the importance of scientific research. They have also understood that their ideas must be made intelligible to the public to be fully successful. Television, broadcasting, loud speakers are utilized as propaganda aids. Propaganda assists in marketing new inventions. Propaganda, by repeatedly interpreting new scientific ideas and inventions to the public, has made the public more receptive. Propaganda is accustoming the public to change and progress.




THE public relations counsel is necessary to social work. And since social service, by its very nature, can continue only by means of the voluntary support of the wealthy, it is obliged to use propaganda continually. The leaders in social service were among the first consciously to utilize propaganda in its modern sense.

The great enemy of any attempt to change men's habits is inertia. Civilization is limited by inertia. Our attitude toward social relations, toward economics, toward national and international politics, continues past attitudes and strengthens them under the force of tradition. Comstock drops his mantle of proselytizing morality on the willing shoulders of a Sumner; Penrose drops his mantle on Butler; Carnegie his on Schwab, and so ad infinitum. Opposing this traditional acceptance of existing ideas is an active public opinion that has been directed consciously into movements against inertia. Public opinion was made or changed formerly by tribal chiefs, by kings, by religious leaders. To-day the privilege of attempting to sway public opinion is every one's. It is one of the manifestations of democracy that any one may try to convince others and to assume leadership on behalf of his own thesis.

New ideas, new precedents, are continually striving for a place in the scheme of things. The social settlement, the organized campaigns against tuberculosis and cancer, the various research activities aiming directly at the elimination of social diseases and maladjustments -- a multitude of altruistic activities which could be catalogued only in a book of many pages -- have need of knowledge of the public mind and mass psychology if they are to achieve their aims. The literature on social service publicity is so extensive, and the underlying principles so fundamental, that only one example is necessary here to illustrate the technique of social service propaganda.

A social service organization undertook to fight lynching, Jim Crowism and the civil discriminations against the Negro below the Mason and Dixon line. The National Association for the Advancement of the Colored People had the fight in hand. As a matter of technique they decided to dramatize the year's campaign in an annual convention which would concentrate attention on the problem. Should it be held in the North, South, West or East? Since the purpose was to affect the entire country, the association was advised to hold it in the South. For, said the propagandist, a point of view on a southern question, emanating from a southern centre, would have greater authority than the same point of view issuing from any other locality, particularly when that point of view was at odds with the traditional southern point of view. Atlanta was chosen.

The third step was to surround the conference with people who were stereotypes for ideas that carried weight all over the country. The support of leaders of diversified groups was sought. Telegrams and letters were dispatched to leaders of religious, political, social and educational groups, asking for their point of view on the purpose of the conference. But in addition to these group leaders of national standing it was particularly important from the technical standpoint to secure the opinions of group leaders of the South, even from Atlanta itself, to emphasize the purposes of the conference to the entire public. There was one group in Atlanta which could be approached. A group of ministers had been bold enough to come out for a greater interracial amity. This group was approached and agreed to cooperate in the conference.

The event ran off as scheduled. The program itself followed the general scheme. Negroes and white men from the South, on the same platform, expressed the same point of view. A dramatic element was spot-lighted here and there. A national leader from Massachusetts agreed in principle and in practice with a Baptist preacher from the South.

If the radio had been in effect, the whole country might have heard and been moved by the speeches and the principles expressed. But the public read the words and the ideas in the press of the country. For the event had been created of such important component parts as to awaken interest throughout the country and to gain support for its ideas even in the South. The editorials in the southern press, reflecting the public opinion of their communities, showed that the subject had become one of interest to the editors because of the participation by southern leaders. The event naturally gave the Association itself substantial weapons with which to appeal to an increasingly wider circle. Further publicity was attained by mailing reports, letters, and other propaganda to selected groups of the public. As for the practical results, the immediate one was a change in the minds of many southern editors who realized that the question at issue was not only an emotional one, but also a discussable one; and this point of view was immediately reflected to their readers. Further results are hard to measure with a slide-rule. The conference had its definite effect in building up the racial consciousness and solidarity of the Negroes. The decline in lynching is very probably a result of this and other efforts of the Association.

Many churches have made paid advertising and organized propaganda part of their regular activities. They have developed church advertising committees, which make use of the newspaper and the billboard, as well as of the pamphlet. Many denominations maintain their own periodicals. The Methodist Board of Publication and Information systematically gives announcements and releases to the press and the magazines.

But in a broader sense the very activities of social service are propaganda activities. A campaign for the preservation of the teeth seeks to alter people's habits in the direction of more frequent brushing of teeth. A campaign for better parks seeks to alter people's opinion in regard to the desirability of taxing themselves for the purchase of park facilities. A campaign against tuberculosis is an attempt to convince everybody that tuberculosis can be cured, that persons with certain symptoms should immediately go to the doctor, and the like. A campaign to lower the infant mortality rate is an effort to alter the habits of mothers in regard to feeding, bathing and caring for their babies. Social service, in fact, is identical with propaganda in many cases.

Even those aspects of social service which are governmental and administrative, rather than charitable and spontaneous, depend on wise propaganda for their effectiveness. Professor Harry Elmer Barnes, in his book, "The Evolution of Modern Penology in Pennsylvania," states that improvements in penological administration in that state are hampered by political influences. The legislature must be persuaded to permit the utilization of the best methods of scientific penology, and for this there is necessary the development of an enlightened public opinion. "Until such a situation has been brought about," Mr. Barnes states, "progress in penology is doomed to be sporadic, local, and generally ineffective.

The solution of prison problems, then, seems to be fundamentally a problem of conscientious and scientific publicity." Social progress is simply the progressive education and enlightenment of the public mind in regard to its immediate and distant social problems.

Propaganda for education -- chapter 8 of 11






EDUCATION is not securing its proper share of public interest. The public school system, materially and financially, is being adequately supported. There is marked eagerness for a college education, and a vague aspiration for culture, expressed in innumerable courses and lectures. The public is not cognizant of the real value of education, and does not realize that education as a social force is not receiving the kind of attention it has the right to expect in a democracy. It is felt, for example, that education is entitled to more space in the newspapers; that well informed discussion of education hardly exists; that unless such an issue as the Gary School system is created, or outside of an occasional discussion, such as that aroused over Harvard's decision to establish a school of business, education does not attract the active interest of the public.

There are a number of reasons for this condition. First of all, there is the fact that the educator has been trained to stimulate to thought the individual students in his classroom, but has not been trained as an educator at large of the public.

In a democracy an educator should, in addition to his academic duties, bear a definite and wholesome relation to the general public. This public does not come within the immediate scope of his academic duties. But in a sense he depends upon it for his living, for the moral support, and the general cultural tone upon which his work must be based. In the field of education, we find what we have found in politics and other fields -- that the evolution of the practitioner of the profession has not kept pace with the social evolution around him, and is out of gear with the instruments for the dissemination of ideas which modern society has developed. If this be true, then the training of the educators in this respect should begin in the normal schools, with the addition to their curricula of whatever is necessary to broaden their viewpoint. The public cannot understand unless the teacher understands the relationship between the general public and the academic idea.

The normal school should provide for the training of the educator to make him realize that his is a twofold job: education as a teacher and education as a propagandist.

A second reason for the present remoteness of education from the thoughts and interests of the public is to be found in the mental attitude of the pedagogue -- whether primary school teacher or college professor -- toward the world outside the school.

This is a difficult psychological problem. The teacher finds himself in a world in which the emphasis is put on those objective goals and those objective attainments which are prized by our American society. He himself is but moderately or poorly paid. Judging himself by the standards in common acceptance, he cannot but feel a sense of inferiority because he finds himself continually being compared, in the minds of his own pupils, with the successful business man and the successful leader in the outside world. Thus the educator becomes repressed and suppressed in our civilization. As things stand, this condition cannot be changed from the outside unless the general public alters its standards of achievement, which it is not likely to do soon.

Yet it can be changed by the teaching profession itself, if it becomes conscious not only of its individualistic relation to the pupil, but also of its social relation to the general public. The teaching profession, as such, has the right to carry on a very definite propaganda with a view to enlightening the public and asserting its intimate relation to the society which it serves. In addition to conducting a propaganda on behalf of its individual members, education must also raise the general appreciation of the teaching profession. Unless the profession can raise itself by its own bootstraps, it will fast lose the power of recruiting outstanding talent for itself.

Propaganda cannot change all that is at present unsatisfactory in the educational situation. There are factors, such as low pay and the lack of adequate provision for superannuated teachers, which definitely affect the status of the profession. It is possible, by means of an intelligent appeal predicated upon the actual present composition of the public mind, to modify the general attitude toward the teaching profession. Such a changed attitude will begin by expressing itself in an insistence on the idea of more adequate salaries for the profession.

There are various ways in which academic organizations in America handle their financial problems. One type of college or university depends, for its monetary support, upon grants from the state legislatures. Another depends upon private endowment. There are other types of educational institutions, such as the sectarian, but the two chief types include by far the greater number of our institutions of higher learning.

The state university is supported by grants from the people of the state, voted by the state legislature. In theory, the degree of support which the university receives is dependent upon the degree of acceptance accorded it by the voters. The state university prospers according to the extent to which it can sell itself to the people of the state. The state university is therefore in an unfortunate position unless its president happens to be a man of outstanding merit as a propagandist and a dramatizer of educational issues. Yet if this is the case -- if the university shapes its whole policy toward gaining the support of the state legislature -- its educational function may suffer. It may be tempted to base its whole appeal to the public on its public service, real or supposed, and permit the education of its individual students to take care of itself. It may attempt to educate the people of the state at the expense of its own pupils. This may generate a number of evils, to the extent of making the university a political instrument, a mere tool of the political group in power. If the president dominates both the public and the professional politician, this may lead to a situation in which the personality of the president outweighs the true function of the institution.

The endowed college or university has a problem quite as perplexing. The endowed college is dependent upon the support, usually, of key men in industry whose social and economic objectives are concrete and limited, and therefore often at variance with the pursuit of abstract knowledge. The successful business man criticizes the great universities for being too academic, but seldom for being too practical. One might imagine that the key men who support our universities would like them to specialize in schools of applied science, of practical salesmanship or of industrial efficiency.

And it may well be, in many instances, that the demands which the potential endowers of our universities make upon these institutions are flatly in contradiction to the interests of scholarship and general culture.

We have, therefore, the anomalous situation of the college seeking to carry on a propaganda in favor of scholarship among people who are quite out of sympathy with the aims to which they are asked to subscribe their money. Men who, by the commonly accepted standards, are failures or very moderate successes in our American world (the pedagogues) seek to convince the outstanding successes (the business men) that they should give their money to ideals which they do not pursue. Men who, through a sense of inferiority, despise money, seek to win the good will of men who love money.

It seems possible that the future status of the endowed college will depend upon a balancing of these forces, both the academic and the endowed elements obtaining in effect due consideration.

The college must win public support. If the potential donor is apathetic, enthusiastic public approval must be obtained to convince him. If he seeks unduly to influence the educational policy of the institution, public opinion must support the college in the continuance of its proper functions. If either factor dominates unduly, we are likely to find a demagoguery or a snobbishness aiming to please one group or the other.

There is still another potential solution of the problem. It is possible that through an educational propaganda aiming to develop greater social consciousness on the part of the people of the country, there may be awakened in the minds of men of affairs, as a class, social consciousness which will produce more minds of the type of Julius Rosenwald, V. Everitt Macy, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., the late Willard Straight.

Many colleges have already developed intelligent propaganda in order to bring them into active and continuous relation with the general public. A definite technique has been developed in their relation to the community in the form of college news bureaus. These bureaus have formed an intercollegiate association whose members meet once a year to discuss their problems. These problems include the education of the alumnus and his effect upon the general public and upon specific groups, the education of the future student to the choice of the particular college, the maintenance of an esprit de corps so that the athletic prowess of the college will not be placed first, the development of some familiarity with the research work done in the college in order to attract the attention of those who may be able to lend aid, the development of an understanding of the aims and the work of the institution in order to attract special endowments for specified purposes. Some seventy-five of these bureaus are now affiliated with the American Association of College News Bureaus, including those of Yale, Wellesley, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Western Reserve, Tufts and California. A bi-monthly news letter is published, bringing to members the news of their profession. The Association endeavors to uphold the ethical standards of the profession and aims to work in harmony with the press.

The National Education Association and other societies are carrying on a definite propaganda to promote the larger purposes of educational endeavor.

One of the aims of such propaganda is of course improvement in the prestige and material position of the teachers themselves. An occasional McAndrew case calls the attention of the public to the fact that in some schools the teacher is far from enjoying full academic freedom, while in certain communities the choice of teachers is based upon political or sectarian considerations rather than upon real ability. If such issues were made, by means of propaganda, to become a matter of public concern on a truly national scale, there would doubtless be a general tendency to improvement.

The concrete problems of colleges are more varied and puzzling than one might suppose. The pharmaceutical college of a university is concerned because the drug store is no longer merely a drug store, but primarily a soda fountain, a lunch counter, a bookshop, a retailer of all sorts of general merchandise from society stationery to spare radio parts. The college realizes the economic utility of the lunch counter feature to the practicing druggist, yet it feels that the ancient and honorable art of compounding specifics is being degraded.

Cornell University discovers that endowments are rare. Why? Because the people think that the University is a state institution and therefore publicly supported. Many of our leading universities rightly feel that the results of their scholarly researches should not only be presented to libraries and learned publications, but should also, where practicable and useful, be given to the public in the dramatic form which the public can understand. Harvard is but one example.

"Not long ago," says Charles A. Merrill in Personality, "a certain Harvard professor vaulted into the newspaper headlines. There were several days when one could hardly pick up a paper in any of the larger cities without finding his name bracketed with his achievement.

"The professor, who was back from a trip to Yucatan in the interests of science, had solved the mystery of the Venus calendar of the ancient Mayas. He had discovered the key to the puzzle of how the Mayas kept tab on the flight of time. Checking the Mayan record of celestial events against the known astronomical facts, he had found a perfect correlation between the time count of these Central American Indians and the true positions of the planet Venus in the sixth century B.C. A civilization which flourished in the Western Hemisphere twenty-five centuries ago was demonstrated to have attained heights hitherto unappreciated by the modern world. "How the professor's discovery happened to be chronicled in the popular press is, also, in retrospect, a matter of interest. ... If left to his own devices, he might never have appeared in print, except perhaps in some technical publication, and his remarks there would have been no more intelligible to the average man or woman than if they had been inscribed in Mayan hieroglyphics.

"Popularization of this message from antiquity was due to the initiative of a young man named James W. D. Seymour. . . .

"It may surprise and shock some people," Mr. Merrill adds, "to be told that the oldest and most dignified seats of learning in America now hire press agents, just as railroad companies, fraternal organizations, moving picture producers and political parties retain them. It is nevertheless a fact. . . . ". . . there is hardly a college or university in the country which does not, with the approval of the governing body and the faculty, maintain a publicity office, with a director and a staff of assistants, for the purpose of establishing friendly relations with the newspapers, and through the newspapers, with the public. . . . "This enterprise breaks sharply with tradition. In the older seats of learning it is a recent innovation.

It violates the fundamental article in the creed of the old academic societies. Cloistered seclusion used to be considered the first essential of scholarship. The college was anxious to preserve its aloofness from the world. ... "The colleges used to resent outside interest in their affairs. They might, somewhat reluctantly and contemptuously, admit reporters to their Commencement Day exercises, but no further would they go. . . .

"To-day, if a newspaper reporter wants to interview a Harvard professor, he has merely to telephone the Secretary for Information to the University. Officially, Harvard still shies away from the title 'Director of Publicity.' Informally, however, the secretary with the long title is the publicity man. He is an important official to-day at Harvard."

It may be a new idea that the president of a university will concern himself with the kind of mental picture his institution produces on the public mind. Yet it is part of the president's work to see that his university takes its proper place in the community and therefore also in the community mind, and produces the results desired, both in a cultural and in a financial sense.

If his institution does not produce the mental picture which it should, one of two things may be wrong: Either the media of communication with the public may be wrong or unbalanced; or his institution may be at fault. The public is getting an oblique impression of the university, in which case the impression should be modified; or it may be that the public is getting a correct impression, in which case, very possibly, the work of the university itself should be modified. For both possibilities lie within the province of the public relations counsel. Columbia University recently instituted a Casa Italiana, which was solemnly inaugurated in the presence of representatives of the Italian government, to emphasize its high standing in Latin studies and the Romance languages. Years ago Harvard founded the Germanic Museum, which was ceremoniously opened by Prince Henry of Prussia.

Many colleges maintain extension courses which bring their work to the knowledge of a broad public. It is of course proper that such courses should be made known to the general public. But, to take another example, if they have been badly planned, from the point of view of public relations, if they are unduly scholastic and detached, their effect may be the opposite of favorable. In such a case, it is not the work of the public relations counsel to urge that the courses be made better known, but to urge that they first be modified to conform to the impression which the college wishes to create, where that is compatible with the university's scholastic ideals.

Again, it may be the general opinion that the work of a certain institution is 80 per cent postgraduate research, an opinion which may tend to alienate public interest. This opinion may be true or it may be false. If it is false, it should be corrected by high-spotting undergraduate activities. If, on the other hand, it is true that 80 per cent of the work is postgraduate research, the most should be made of that fact. It should be the concern of the president to make known the discoveries which are of possible public interest. A university expedition into Biblical lands may be uninteresting as a purely scholastic undertaking, but if it contributes light on some Biblical assertion it will immediately arouse the interest of large masses of the population. The zoological department may be hunting for some strange bacillus which has no known relation to any human disease, but the fact that it is chasing bacilli is in itself capable of dramatic presentation to the public.

Many universities now gladly lend members of their faculties to assist in investigations of public interest. Thus Cornell lent Professor Wilcox to aid the government in the preparation of the national census. Professor Irving Fisher of Yale has been called in to advise on currency matters. In the ethical sense, propaganda bears the same relation to education as to business or politics. It may be abused. It may be used to overadvertise an institution and to create in the public mind artificial values. There can be no absolute guarantee against its misuse.

Women's Activities and Propaganda -- (Chapter 7)






WOMEN in contemporary America have achieved a legal equality with men. This does not mean that their activities are identical with those of men. Women in the mass still have special interests and activities in addition to their economic pursuits and vocational interests.

Women's most obvious influence is exerted when they are organized and armed with the weapon of propaganda. So organized and armed they have made their influence felt on city councils, state legislatures, and national congresses, upon executives, upon political campaigns and upon public opinion generally, both local and national.

In politics, the American women to-day occupy a much more important position, from the standpoint of their influence, in their organized groups than from the standpoint of the leadership they have acquired in actual political positions or in actual office holding. The professional woman politician has had, up to the present, not much influence, nor do women generally regard her as being the most important element in question. Ma Ferguson, after all, was simply a woman in the home, a catspaw for a deposed husband; Nellie Ross, the former Governor of Wyoming, is from all accounts hardly a leader of statesmanship or public opinion.

If the suffrage campaign did nothing more, it showed the possibilities of propaganda to achieve certain ends. This propaganda to-day is being utilized by women to achieve their programs in Washington and in the states. In Washington they are organized as the Legislative Committee of Fourteen Women's Organizations, including the League of Women Voters, the Young Women's Christian Association, the Woman's Christian Temperance Union, the Federation of Women's Clubs, etc. These organizations map out a legislative program and then use the modern technique of propaganda to make this legislative program actually pass into the law of the land. Their accomplishments in the field are various. They can justifiably take the credit for much welfare legislation. The eight-hour day for women is theirs. Undoubtedly prohibition and its enforcement are theirs, if they can be considered an accomplishment.

So is the Shepard-Towner Bill which stipulates support by the central government of maternity welfare in the state governments. This bill would not have passed had it not been for the political prescience and sagacity of women like Mrs. Vanderlip and Mrs. Mitchell.

The Federal measures endorsed at the first convention of the National League of Women Voters typify social welfare activities of women's organizations. These covered such broad interests as child welfare, education, the home and high prices, women in gainful occupations, public health and morals, independent citizenship for married women, and others. To propagandize these principles, the National League of Women Voters has published all types of literature, such as bulletins, calendars, election information, has held a correspondence course on government and conducted demonstration classes and citizenship schools.

Possibly the effectiveness of women's organizations in American politics to-day is due to two things: first, the training of a professional class of executive secretaries or legislative secretaries during the suffrage campaigns, where every device known to the propagandist had to be used to regiment a recalcitrant majority; secondly, the routing over into peacetime activities of the many prominent women who were in the suffrage campaigns and who also devoted themselves to the important drives and mass influence movements during the war. Such women as Mrs. Frank Vanderlip, Alice Ames Winter, Mrs. Henry Moskowitz, Mrs. Florence Kelley, Mrs. John Blair, Mrs. O. H. P. Belmont, Doris Stevens, Alice Paul come to mind.

If I have seemed to concentrate on the accomplishments of women in politics, it is because they afford a particularly striking example of intelligent use of the new propaganda to secure attention and acceptance of minority ideas. It is perhaps curiously appropriate that the latest recruits to the political arena should recognize and make use of the newest weapons of persuasion to offset any lack of experience with what is somewhat euphemistically termed practical politics.

As an example of this new technique: Some years ago, the Consumers' Committee of Women, fighting the "American valuation" tariff, rented an empty store on Fifty-seventh Street in New York and set up an exhibit of merchandise tagging each item with the current price and the price it would cost if the tariff went through. Hundreds of visitors to this shop rallied to the cause of the committee. But there are also non-political fields in which women can make and have made their influence felt for social ends, and in which they have utilized the principle of group leadership in attaining the desired objectives.

In the General Federation of Women's Clubs, there are 13,000 clubs. Broadly classified, they include civic and city clubs, mothers' and homemakers' clubs, cultural clubs devoted to art, music or literature, business and professional women's clubs, and general women's clubs, which may embrace either civic or community phases, or combine some of the other activities listed.

The woman's club is generally effective on behalf of health education; in furthering appreciation of the fine arts; in sponsoring legislation that affects the welfare of women and children; in playground development and park improvement; in raising standards of social or political morality; in homemaking. and home economics, education and the like. In these fields, the woman's club concerns itself with efforts that are not ordinarily covered by existing agencies, and often both initiates and helps to further movements for the good of the community.

A club interested principally in homemaking and the practical arts can sponsor a cooking school for young brides and others. An example of the keen interest of women in this field of education is the cooking school recently conducted by the New York Herald Tribune, which held its classes in Carnegie Hall, seating almost 3,000 persons. For the several days of the cooking school, the hall was filled to capacity, rivaling the drawing power of a McCormack or a Paderewski, and refuting most dramatically the idea that women in large cities are not interested in housewifery.

A movement for the serving of milk in public schools, or the establishment of a baby health station at the department of health will be an effort close to the heart of a club devoted to the interest of mothers and child welfare.

A music club can broaden its sphere and be of service to the community by cooperating with the local radio station in arranging better musical programs. Fighting bad music can be as militant a campaign and marshal as varied resources as any political battle. An art club can be active in securing loan exhibitions for its city. It can also arrange travelling exhibits of the art work of its members or show the art work of schools or universities. A literary club may step out of its charmed circle of lectures and literary lions and take a definite part in the educational life of the community. It can sponsor, for instance, a competition in the public schools for the best essay on the history of the city, or on the life of its most famous son.

Over and above the particular object for which the woman's club may have been constituted, it commonly stands ready to initiate or help any movement which has for its object a distinct public good in the community. More important, it constitutes an organized channel through which women can make themselves felt as a definite part of public opinion.

Just as women supplement men in private life, so they will supplement men in public life by concentrating their organized efforts on those objects which men are likely to ignore. There is a tremendous field for women as active protagonists of new ideas and new methods of political and social housekeeping. When organized and conscious of their power to influence their surroundings, women can use their newly acquired freedom in a great many ways to mold the world into a better place to live in.