We were all a part of the War Effort. We went along with it, and not only that, we abetted it. Gradually it became a part of all of us that the truth about anything was automatically secret and that to trifle with it was to interfere with the War Effort. By this I don’t mean that the correspondents were liars … [but] it is in the things not mentioned that the untruth lies.
– John Steinbeck, Once There Was a War (1958).
Voluntary censorship by the American press began before the bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941. Government control of the news was comprehensive. and all news about the war had to pass through the Office of War Information (OWI).
A “Code of Wartime Practices for the American Press,” issued in January 1942 prescribed strict instructions on proper handling of news. This code was voluntarily adopted by all of the major news organizations and members of the press accredited by the armed forces during the war. Government reliance on a reporter’s patriotism ensured that front line dispatches placed the Allies in a favorable light.