A Brief History of the AAPA
The Association was founded at a meeting held on December 16, 1907, in the office of the London Daily Chronicle, which at that time shared offices with the Chicago Daily News. Sixteen British and nine American correspondents answered the call. Visits were paid to M. Clemenceau, the Prime Minister, to M. Pichon, the Foreign Minister, and to M. Lépine, Prefect of Police. The purposes of the Association were explained to them and they gave their cordial approval.
The war of 1914-18 and the peace conference that followed awakened many newspapers to the importance of Paris as a news center, and the Association grew rapidly. Beginning in 1914, weekly luncheons were organized at which public officials of all nations were invited to speak. Usually these talks were intimate and off the record, but occasionally a statesman would select the Association luncheon as a convenient platform from which to make an important statement of policy.
Upon the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, the French civil and military authorities placed upon the Association the duty of verifying the journalistic status of the numerous news writers who flocked to Paris from Britain and the Dominions and from the United States.This, while it placed a heavy burden on our secretariat, was a signal recognition of the Association as a responsible professional body. When Paris fell in mid-June 1940, the Association was obliged to suspend its activities. Some of its American members, however, promptly organized a United States Press Association, while others formed an American Press Association at Vichy.
Subsequently, a group of members in London got together for luncheon meetings to which public figures were invited, including notably General de Gaulle. In 1943 another group, composed of war correspondents and of members of the staff of Allied Forces Headquarters, began holding similar luncheons in Algiers, General de Gaulle being again one of those received. After the liberation of Paris in August 1944, although many members were on the spot, most were accredited to S.H.A.E.F. as war correspondents and were therefore not free to join in reconstituting the Association. But a year later, when the war had been won, the Association was immediately reorganized.
The statutes were amended to extend membership to women correspondents, and radio correspondents were admitted on the same terms as newspaper writers. During 1946, in spite of difficulties due to food rationing, the Association held a series of six luncheons, and ended the year with the traditional annual dinner. The luncheons became weekly again during 1947, the traditional Wednesday being maintained. Toward the end of 1953 the weekly meeting was dropped and semi-monthly luncheons as regularly as possible were inaugurated.
In subsequent years, the membership of the association broadened to reflect the changing nature of the news business – for example, the introduction of television news. The Association’s luncheons, however, have remained an important tradition. They were held for many years at the Maison de l’Amérique Latine and later at the Maison des Polytechniciens on the Left Bank. Since the fall of 1992, the Association has held luncheons and other meetings such as cash-bar events at a variety of Paris locations. Guest speakers have been of a consistently high quality over the years. They have included heads of state, government ministers, senior officials from international agencies, corporations and banks, as well as leading figures from French culture, politics and the media. The Association has added cultural events to its programme, such as organised visits to opera and concert rehearsals.