This film is part of Free

Newsfronts of War

The humming banks of teletype machines in the New York offices of the Associated Press bring news of the world-changing events of 1939, from Shanghai, Madrid, London and Moscow.

News 1939 19 mins


This fascinating venture into the brand new offices of the Associated Press shows how new technology was transforming the operations of America’s biggest and oldest news agency during the busiest year in the organisation’s history. Batteries of chattering teleprinters bring news from the agency’s foreign correspondents in a year which saw victory for Franco in Spain, Britain’s declaration of war on Germany, and - the biggest shock of the year - Stalin’s pact with Hitler.

This March of Time film’s enthusiastic focus on the uses of new technology - such as the ability to transmit photographs via radio and cable - is characteristic of one of the series’ most enduring and appealing characteristics: its championing of the social benefits of scientific knowledge. Also typical is the anti-Fascist tone, explicitly present in the film’s climax which focuses on the likely consequences of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. Quoting Hitler’s own comments on Russia from Mein Kampf - ‘the deadly enemy of Germany’s future’) - the report suggests, with prophetic accuracy, that the ultimate consequences of the alliance may not be to Germany’s benefit.