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 share 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, but were less regular in the ensuing decades.
In subsequent years, the membership of the association broadened to reflect the changing nature of the news business, notably the rise of broadcast and digital media. The group has no fixed “club house,” and events are held in a variety of locations, often in the premises where our guests are based. 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 high point of the year is our annual Gala, hosted alternately by the British and U.S. embassies. The Association offers a broad menu of events that have included organized visits to opera and concert rehearsals. Occasional seminars and workshops allow members to hone their professional skills. In recent years, our end-of-month Happy Hours where members can meet up with friends and colleagues to exchange tips and gossip have been a popular feature.