The Office of War Information, or OWI for short, was established during World War II in an effort to help the United States government gain momentum in developing influential propaganda and outreach. The government’s aim was to strengthen and build up existing government services as well as to spread heavily patriotic propaganda to Americans both in the states as well as across the globe. The OWI was able to disseminate information far and wide by using Hollywood to produce popular pro-war films as well as incorporate big-name celebrities during the 40’s, to influence the general public. The United States government attempted to abstain from the war for as long as possible, however, it was on December 7, 1941, that Japan bombed pearl harbor.
Immediately after this Iconic incident, on December 8, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the United States Congress declared war against Japan. It wasn’t until June 13, 1942, that the Office of War Information would be created with the intent to persuade American citizens to join to fight the war on the “Homefront.”(8) Because the U.S was now involved in the war, the government needed a method of attracting both men and women to fight for their country, and while doing so the government developed another service directly partnered with the OWI; the Bureau of Motion Pictures(BMP). The BMP, as a subdivision of the OWI, partnered up with Hollywood to create films for the public with the idea of encouraging patriotism. President F.
D.R, named popular CBS radio news commentator and former New York Times reporter Elmer Davis as the head director of the OWI. (6) Davis insisted that the agency’s policy was, to tell the truth, however, information could not be separated from interpretation, thus the OWI told the truth by degrees and with partial bias. (6) By using the “strategy of truth,” which was a method of releasing information to the people without giving them a forced opinion of the war, the government was able to steer away from the pressure the media was placed on the United States.
The Office of War Information was specifically created to centralize the many United States government’s information services and create a single line of communication about the war to the American public. The Office of War Information could be compared to a filter to some extent. They were responsible for sifting through and censoring information of films, radio broadcasts, and newspapers to rid them of information deemed too much for the public. The Office of War Information created a propaganda machine… distributing poster, booklets, photographs, radio broadcasts, and films designed to improve morale and boost the people’s patriotism.
(7) The OWI used various forms of media to spread their information and propaganda throughout the United States. A very effective method, however, was to use “leaflet bombs,” dropping them throughout the Homefront. The Leaflet bomb contained roles of published comic books, posters, and papers that would be used to boost citizen morale. They were an important method to spread propaganda, as they could be used to reach those in rural areas as well as to enemy troops of which they could use the material to surrender to allied forces. (6) Many methods of propaganda worked phenomenally, however it was the government and the OWI that realized that the influence of films and movies could out weight other forms. This lead to a sub-service of the governments OWI being created; the Bureau of Motion Pictures.
The Bureau of Motion pictures or (BMP