The People's Council of America, established in New York City in May 1917 and headed by Scott Nearing and Louis P. Lochner, produced a monthly publication called People's Council Bulletin, which featured international news with an emphasis on the doings of the peace movement. The editor of this publication was William E. Williams, press spokesman of the People's Council. This bulletin proved the inspiration for the International Labor News Service, itself a news agency for the radical press, as octogenarian Scott Nearing recounted in his 1972 memoirs:
"One day...a big, sturdy chap just past middle age came into our New York People's Council office and showed credentials from the Western Metal Miners. He had been reading our Bulletin and liked the material, especially that dealing with international affairs. 'If you will put this material into a regular news service,' he told us, 'our organization will help pay for it and circulate it. Here is our first contribution' and he put a $20 bill on the desk."
In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a similar concept was being tested by Edward J. Costello, Managing Editor of Victor Berger's socialist daily, the Milwaukee Leader. This news service, called the Federated Press, was founded on January 3, 1920, and was intended to supply copy to labor and radical newspapers around the country. The two news agencies decided to join forces under the Federated Press banner, with Costello holding down the post of Managing Editor of the Service and Lochner acting as Business Manager. Nearing provided the service with regular installments of his writing. The service grew steadily and was ultimately mailing news releases and picture mats five days a week to some 150 labor and radical publications.
In August 1920, conscientious objector and university instructor Carl Haessler was released from federal penitentiary after serving a two-year sentence. He took over the job of Managing Editor from Costello, who left the employment of the service. Haessler remained at this position until the service was terminated in the 1940s.
Nearing continued to produce content for the Federated Press until 1943, when he was fired for his anti-war politics, which Managing Editor Haessler deemed to be "childish".
The service was discontinued after the end of World War II, when the more conservative labor papers terminated their use of the service.
- Scott Nearing,The Making of a Radical: A Political Autobiography. New York: Harper Colophon Books, 1972; pg. 173.
- Nearing erroneously recalls this event as having happened in 1921, that is, a date after the merger of the International Labor News Service with the Federated Press. Nearing,The Making of a Radical," pg. 173.