The American Press and the Sinking of the Lusitania

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Purpose of Study: The purpose of the study was to analyze to what degree the sinking of the R.M.S. Lusitania swayed editorial opinion against Germany in seven representative United States newspapers. Procedures: Seven newspapers were chosen for this study, based on their geographic location and political prominence: the New York Times, Atlanta Constitution, Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Examiner, Washington Post, Kansas City Star, and the Milwaukee Journal. The historical record of U.S. foreign policy prior to World War I, and the political viewpoint of each newspaper was reviewed by way of introduction. The papers were examined for news and editorial content. Items studied included: the first seven pages of each newspaper, the unsigned editorials expressing the view of the editorial staff, and letters to the editor that dealt with the sinking. Each paper was studied six months prior to the sinking, during the crisis (including the exchange of diplomatic notes between the United States and Germany), and six months after the answer to Wilson's final Lusitania note. Conclusion: The study found that the sinking of the Lusitania did not sway editorial opinion against Germany in the selected newspapers.