Volume #21 - 492.|
RELATIONS WITH THE UNITED STATES
PUBLICITY IN UNITED STATES ABOUT CANADA
Ambassador in United States|
to Secretary of State for External Affairs
PERSONAL AND CONFIDENTIAL||
June 9th, 1955|
Dear Mike [Pearson],
Bob Farquharson has just recently completed a memorandum giving his first conclusions on the business of Canadian information in the United States, and has embodied them in a memorandum to me dated June 8th. I am sending this on to you in this personal letter, first because of your own close interest in and knowledge of the subject, and secondly because the memorandum might be taken in one or two paragraphs as being somewhat critical of the Department's information operation and perhaps unsuitable for "official" submission.
I feel pretty sure that you will agree with me that the memorandum is as sound as it is direct. I think that without exception I can corroborate (for what that is worth) Bob's own evidence. His whole approach in the memorandum is a reflection of the wise and successful way in which he handles information matters himself here in the Embassy. He is quite invaluable in his present post.
As you may know, I have asked Bob during the summer to visit a number of our "outside" posts to review what they are doing and what else they might do in the way of information activity. This next week he is to spend a couple of days in Detroit and in Chicago. Later on he will visit our posts on the coast. Thereafter he will no doubt have additional advice to give us.
There are no further comments I need make on the memorandum, except perhaps to say that if we can bring about slowly a modest expansion of staff in the United States under Bob's direction, I feel sure that we would get good value out of it - despite the tight situation the Department is in. It might be, for instance, that we could add a couple of officers a year for use in the United States, and Bob himself might be associated in their selection.
When you have a chance I will be glad to have your comments.
Note de l'agent d'information pour l'ambassadeur aux États-Unis
Memorandum from Information Officer to Ambassador in United States
June 8, 1955
CANADIAN INFORMATION IN THE UNITED STATES
The major criticism of the present Information organization in the United States is that the four officers in Washington and New York are in danger of being engulfed in routine. They are already captives of their telephones.
Answering enquiries and circulating major policy announcements represents far too large a part of their work. It slows down the very important business of making personal contacts with newspapers, correspondents, members of the House and Senate, and government officials.
As a long term project contact is being made with University professors and other educational leaders and the response indicates that a rewarding field has yet to be really worked. There is a real opportunity to get an important group of key men to understand the Canadian viewpoint. In this connection I would like to see machinery established to keep in touch with Canadian professors spending a year at an American University and also to keep Canadian post graduate students well enough informed of developments that they are in a position effectively to answer questions.
Information officers are not seeking to increase the mill run of news from Canada. They are trying to provide material and stimulate interest which will lead to more interpretative articles, more editorial discussion and some glimmering understanding "of the nice people up in the north". It is the particular objective to act when difficulties are seen developing with the hope that the more serious publications and more of the leaders will know Canada's case. Sometimes Canadians here have the feeling that despite the very real good-will that exists towards our country, most Americans do not know the Canadian case, do not even know that a dispute exists.
Successful work along this line can be accomplished only when writers and leaders have confidence in the integrity of the Information service. It requires a factual and not a propaganda approach. It means that questions of fact have to be answered even when the answers individually do not always support the Canadian position.
It is most important that the Canadian case be placed before individual congressmen and senators. So far the policy has been followed of sending material to the Hill only when requested or to politicians known personally to the officers. This approach is slowly widening and there has been an increasing use of Canadian documents in the Congressional Record. Enquiries originating from Congressmen and Senators are now largely for information which can be used to needle the government or alternatively for use in the preparation of legislation. There has been, for instance, a lively and unpromoted interest in Canada's handling of the Salk vaccine. The Embassy had the material mimeographed and ready but it was handed out only to those who asked for it.
The officers in Washington are striving to stimulate the flow of more material from other government departments and at times from provincial governments. They are doing their best to provide as much guidance as possible for information-starved consulates. Under difficult conditions consulate staffs have done their best and the friendly relations have made the work pleasant. I hope before the end of the summer to have visited most of the posts in the United States.
The work at New York is quite different from the work in Washington. New York has the national magazines, the news and picture services, the great concentration of free lance writers, the television and radio networks. It is the place to create interest in Canadian feature stories, in magazine articles, in pictures, in any Canadian development that has a dramatic touch.
A staff of two officers - recently reduced from three - is not enough to provide proper service for people who call in person or telephone the New York office. And if the officers in New York are desk bound the unfortunate spiral starts. Because they don't get around fewer writers call and in the end the information job is reduced to doing the many things in an information way that would have to be done by other officers if there was no Information personnel. It should be remembered that the senior officer at present is, in addition, the press officer to the Canadian Delegation to the United Nations and for long periods of the year this takes up all his time. Only an officer without ambition and without imagination would fail to be frustrated in this situation.
Just in passing, and not suggested as something to emulate, the British Information Service has in New York a total staff of 141 with an additional 20 in Chicago and 16 in Washington and information officers at all other consular posts in the country.
At the seven other Canadian posts in the U.S. information work is divided among the staff with in each case the head of post taking a lively and an active interest. Reports from all posts collected in advance of writing this memo, indicate a strong feeling that opportunities are being missed through lack of staff and lack of time. There was a repeated request for more guidance papers from Ottawa. The consuls general have done their best to get to know editors but have found difficulty getting around their large areas.
All posts reported a need for material in shorter and more useful form than the texts of speeches which are the main ration at the moment. They would like condensed up-to-date papers on Canadian developments, more library material.
Several emphasized the importance of the universities as a place to send Canadian information. Recent experience in the posts has indicated a more promising return from speeches distributed to university professors than from speeches passed on to newspapers many days after delivery.
The posts are all expanding their distribution of teacher's kits and fact sheets. With more help this could be very much enlarged and I believe that the effort would have good results. There has been nothing but commendation for the material we have been distributing. I believe, however, that specific study should be given to the age groups we are trying to reach when we have found out what these age groups are. I would like to see more attractive printing of the fact sheets and a wider selection. While, as I said, circulation is increasing, we are, after all, only providing a trickle of information into the vast school system of this country.
Films represent the greatest expenditure the government is making in the Information field but apart from National Film Board commercial and travel film distribution the time and effort we put into seeing that these films are shown is so far out of line with the original expenditure as to constitute a serious waste of resources. Film demands vary directly with promotion. It is only fair, however, to say that every post puts as much time as it can spare into servicing films.
My criticism is not with the posts. There has not been enough liaison with the Film Board and clerks looking after films have not been given enough guidance. Mr. T.V. Adams of the Film Board has been making a tour of consulates and I believe that his recommendations will lead to a more efficient operation. There is enough capital invested in the film libraries to justify frequent visits from Film Board officers and to justify at least one person working full time at distribution.
All posts have a problem with speeches to be made as well as circulated and an easily revisable speakers' handbook would be welcomed in posts in all countries. The rest of the world does not face the opportunity, however, that the Kiwanis BE KIND TO CANADA week affords.
And now that Canada no longer celebrates Empire Day, Kiwanians in the U.S. have started to do so and this means another round of requests and another scurry for material, on the Commonwealth as well as Canada.
The Information Division in Ottawa is the natural fount of the knowledge the posts seek. It has, however, been steadily reduced in size and there is again the problem of the day by day enquiries taking up the time needed for more creative work.
I would like to see a re-evaluation of the feature photo operation. Pictures are a valuable source of information and picture editing in one of the most technical of Information jobs. Pictures are also expensive and a well trained picture editor, with nothing else to take up his time, would prevent wastage of money. In the picture field there is room for a pooling of all Canadian resources.
A team of writer-researchers could fill a need all posts feel for new material. I am not suggesting articles ready to pop into papers but rather the information on which newspapers could write their own stories, and speakers could write their own speeches. For special occasions, such as July 1, a name writer, or name writers in both French and English, could be assigned to do by-line features.
Canadians have long complained of the ignorance of Canada south of the border. Leaving out Time Magazine staff reporters - who, incidentally, write almost entirely for the Canadian edition not seen here - there were, when I last counted, only three staff employees of the American press in Canada. Neither AP nor UP employ their own men but rely on CP and BUP. News from Canada lacks an American accent, is quite often not understood and so an unfortunate amount is scrapped.
That is one reason why answering enquiries from the press is such an important job in every Canadian post. The volume of enquiries varies directly with the ability to provide information.
It is also the reason why it is so important that posts in this country be supplied with advance texts of important speeches and kept informed of Canadian developments. And because of this comparative block in press links with Canada it is all the more important that high level persons make more important speeches in the United States.
But back-stopping for press failures is at best a makeshift and there are hopes that sometime the Canadian Press will not be able to say that it alone, of all the national news services, covers its country for A.P.
If Canadian Information in the United States were to be scaled on the basis private industry now practises, it would require many times the present budget. But large information operations by governments are even more suspect abroad than they are at home and are in danger of doing more harm than good. Therefore I am in favour of maintaining a strictly factual Information Service with a small staff and a small budget.
The modest operation I believe to be desirable requires expansion from the present token level. This is particularly true in New York but it is also true in Washington and in the other posts as well.
Recruiting the proper type of person is the real difficulty and I would sooner carry on with the present limitations than rush into hiring men or women of whose judgment I was not sure. I would also like to see the staff built up on a gradual basis with the work developing first rather than engaging the man to build up the work.
It is some time since Information officers have been recruited as such. While good work has been done by untrained officers, the department has not the facilities for training professional Information workers. The type of men needed cannot be secured as long as the government limits the promotion of all recruited in this category.
The Department does not hesitate to ask young foreign service officers to take on all types of work including Information. In the same way young Information-trained men could be engaged as foreign service officers and given the opportunity to do Information work and in smaller posts take on other duties as well. This might be the answer to the problem in some of the consular posts. On the present rotation system it would provide a leaven of professionals in Ottawa.