Historically Speaking

Making sense of it all!

Brown Out (as in “censorship”)

Posted by Elyse Bruce on June 6, 2011

Brown out as in “censorship” means that some information is available to the media and the general public, but not all of the information is made available.  An example of this would be to provide basic information to the media and general public about legal proceedings while maintaining that some of the information is confidential and cannot be shared with the media and the general public.

On November 6, 1955 the Sarasota Herald-Tribune published an article entitled, “Current Events Reports: Probe On Government Secrecy” by Richard Spong.  It reported:

A House Government Operations subcommittee is beginning hearings on an alleged “brown out” of information by government agencies.  A new House Subcommittee study of federal agency information policy should, in the words of Chairman John E. Moss (D., Calif.) “show the public the extent to which there has been a brown out of information about the public’s business.”

A recent expression that Idiomation was unable to trace back prior to the early 1950s, a brown out as it refers to censorship is a derivative of the expression black out.

See “black out” for additional information.

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