No. 212 NAI DFA GR 246

Timothy A. Smiddy to Desmond FitzGerald (Dublin)

Washington, 5 May 1924

My dear Minister:

I presume that you have obtained a rough idea of the general attitude of the principal newspapers of the United States towards the Irish Free State and towards its present Government; and as far as I can gather the newspapers which we peruse are fairly typical of the press of the U.S.A. as a whole.

During the last few months the Irish Free State got a good deal of favourable and sustained publicity; yet in a few instances, such as in the case of the New York Tribune, some publicity has been given[,] creative of an unfavourable atmosphere. This paper during the month of March published a series of articles under the name of Mr. Warre Wells, copies of which I sent you and on which I commented in my letter of March 26th.1 To illustrate I again enclose a copy of an editorial of the 'New York Times' of March 25th and cutting on 'Ireland's Rising Revenue' of March 23rd.

Unfortunately, one unfavourable article is more injurious to the credit, trade, industry and world wide influence of the Irish Free State than many favourable ones, and they are certain to be affected by the impression formed in this and other countries by press reports.

To offset the unfavourable effect, if any, of the articles of the New York Tribune some influential friends of mine gave me a cordial introduction to Mr Oaks, chief stockholder of the New York Times, and Mr Wiley, General Manager. I had an interview with these gentlemen who had been notified by my friends of the object of my visit, viz. that I was anxious to discuss with them some true facts dealing with the constructive side of the Irish Free State in view of the unfavourable impression created by some articles that appeared in another New York paper. They listened with sympathetic interest to my remarks; introduced me to the principal editors of the paper with whom I discussed the subject in greater detail; and informed that they would instruct their Washington representative to keep in touch with me in matters affecting the Irish Free State.

In view of the fact that many merchants are falsely representing goods of Irish origin (bacon, lace, poplin etc), I introduced Mr Lindsay Crawford to Mr Wiley. I expect that some good will result from these interviews and I shall maintain and improve the contact which has been made.

Everything possible has been done by this office to bring before the American public the stronger and more constructive elements in the Irish Free State's position. This has been effected, if in a somewhat haphazard way, by utilizing various avenues of publicity, viz. Publicity Department of the Department of Commerce of the U.S.A., Bankers Journal, banks, interviews, contacts with press representatives and circularizing many newspapers with the various publications we receive from the Government.

You, doubtless, will realise that, in consequence of the variety of work of this office, the area of the U.S.A. and the absence of any staff, except my secretary, - as Mr Slattery is wholly engaged on the work of the Republican Bond Certificates - it is absolutely impossible to attempt anything approaching an organized scheme of publicity. For the effective working of such a scheme a first class publicity man and a staff of two competent assistants would be required. A publicity man of first class standing and of editorial experience cannot be procured here under $10,000 per annum. And for this purpose a man acquainted with American publicity, methods and journalism is required. For instance, an institution such as the Catholic Welfare News Service pays its director of publicity $13,000. Similar salaries are paid by banks and business institutions to their publicity directors. I calculate that the outlay (in salaries, travelling, office expenses, and special articles) for an adequate publicity bureau attached to this office would be $25,000. Unless a competent staff of this character were established it would be better to content ourselves with the practice which obtains at present.

Perhaps, the financial exigencies of the Irish Free State may not permit this. However, I simply wish to put on record the essentials of adequate publicity for the constructive side of the Irish Free State as from time to time one hears criticisms, to the effect that it does not do a sufficient amount of publicity in the U.S.A. And these criticisms come from those who assume a spasmodic interest in the Irish Free State and who do not go to much trouble to acquaint themselves with its real conditions. Hence, I feel justified in claiming your esteemed and valuable consideration of what steps, if any, should be taken for comprehensive publicity in the United States.

I would again press upon you the great value of regular messages by Ministers to all representatives of the Foreign press in Ireland. Probably you have already considered some intermediary by which they can be kept in friendly contact with your Ministry.

I write this letter for you to consider, if, in the light of these comments, my previous reports and newspaper cuttings, the time has come for an organized and effective system of publicity based on the stable elements of the political, financial, agricultural, industrial, literary and artistic [life]2 of the Irish Free State.

I am of opinion that any time, thought and money that can be spared for this purpose will be well spent, and confidence in the Irish Free State abroad cannot fail to have its bearing in assisting the settlement of problems at home. In the United States at present where there is so fertile a field for the creation of sentiment friendly or unfriendly everything possible should be done to place before the public the stronger and more constructive elements in the position of the Irish Free State.

I have already written to you suggesting the formation, and the lines on which it might be effected, of an Irish Press Association. I discussed the matter in some detail with Dr MacDonald when he was in New York.

At your convenience I shall be favoured with your comments on this memorandum.

Accept the renewed assurances of my highest consideration.

Mise, le meas,
[copy letter unsigned]

1 Not printed.

2 Word missing.

Purchase Volumes Online

Purchase Volumes Online



The Royal Irish Academy's Documents on Irish Foreign Policy series has published an eBook of confidential correspondence on the 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty negotiations.

Free Download

International Counterparts

The international network of Editors of Diplomatic Documents was founded in 1988. Delegations from different parts of the world met for the first time in London in 1989.
Read more ....