From 1941 to 1996 the U.S. government published the Daily Report of the Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS). FBIS was begun in 1941 as a means of letting the government know what propaganda was being broadcast into the U.S. by the shortwave radio services of the foreign governments involved in the European war.
Broadcasts deemed of potential interest to U.S. government officials were selected for translation into English. Political, economic and war news dominated the first years of FBIS. Broadcasts were either transcribed in their entirety, in part, or were briefly summarized. Every day a Daily Report was published and delivered. After World War II the number of FBIS sources grew, and the size of the Daily Report ballooned. In the early 1970s FBIS Daily Reports began to be delivered in Regional Reports whose names changed over time. Sources now included newspapers and television news shows as well as radio broadcasts.
Graham E. Fuller, a former C.I.A. official, wrote about FBIS Reports in a Consortium News piece entitled, “Value in Reading Others’ Propaganda,” which was published online on September 29, 2015. In this piece Fuller writes:
Indeed there was an entire branch of CIA which monitored and published on a daily basis a thick booklet of selected broadcast items from around the world—available by subscription. The Foreign Broadcast Information Service provided an invaluable service. It is now sadly defunct, the victim of short-sighted budget cutting—an operation which probably cost less annually than one fighter aircraft and offered much more.
In February 2013, British Prime Minster David Cameron laid a wreath in Amritsar, India, the site of a bloody crackdown by British troops against pro-independence protesters in 1919. The British attack left more than 1,000 Indian civilians dead. At the recent wreath-laying ceremony, Cameron wrote in the visitors’ book:
This was a deeply shameful event in British history—one that Winston Churchill rightly described at that time as ‘monstrous’. We must never forget what happened here. And in remembering, we must ensure that the United Kingdom stands up for the right of peaceful protest around the world.
Known today as the “Amritsar Massacre,” the violent crackdown is widely viewed by historians as a key turning point towards India’s eventual independence from ruling Britain. This pivotal event is covered extensively in the native Indian and British Raj newspapers found in South Asian Newspapers, 1864-1922, a module in the digital World Newspaper Archive created in partnership between Readex and the Center for Research Libraries.
The World Newspaper Archive represents the largest searchable collection of historical newspapers from Asia, Africa and Latin America. Providing new opportunities for fresh insight across wide-ranging academic disciplines, this collection was created in partnership with the Center for Research Libraries (CRL)—one of the world's largest and most important newspaper repositories.
One of the joys of browsing American historical newspapers is discovering the unexpected from around the world. Take this photograph, for example, of a car being dragged across a Siberian river during the Peking-to-Paris race in 1907: