Sunday, November 25, 2012

Edward Kennedy the AP War Correspondent who first reported the Nazi surrender


In an editorial he had written just before he died in November 1963, he stated

 “One of the problems of publishing a newspaper is that you have to sell something that is dead,” the piece read. “We can sell these pieces of dead trees only by creating the illusion that they are alive. This we attempt to do, with varying success, by headlines that grip the eye and written material that clutches the heart and soul of man.”

The part which says “the written material that clutches the heart and soul of man” is what caught my imagination. It is important and a duty of journalists to report something which keeps us spellbound. Their words are just as important as what they are saying. It is therefore important for a good journalist to have the command of the language in which he is writing to be able to deliver the story in language that is both memorable and the content clearly enunciated.

A book about his life “Ed Kennedy’s War – VE day, Censorship and Associated Press” has just been published nearly 50 years after he died, primarily from a manuscript he had written in 1951 about his life as a war correspondent for AP during the Second World War in Europe.

Journalists of today, no matter where they report from, operate and tell their stories in their own way owe it as a duty to their readership, which is the user of the information they provide, to give them as true a picture of the event as one can practically say.

It goes without saying that true objectivity is a goal that is not always easy to achieve due to a series of hindrances, though nevertheless a lofty goal to keep sight of.

In the particular instance of Kennedy he reported the  German surrender when he was asked not to and paid the price of losing his job at AP and had to find a job in a local paper and ended up editing a small paper in Monterey California, which he managed to raise from a also ran to one of pedigree in local journalism.

These small stories of the past are those that should inspire journalists of today to believe that their story is bigger than themselves. I reported in this blog about the laptops and car loans, yesterday in my blog entry, saying that it was a dirty underhand thing to force journalists into a corner and even those who pride themselves with some ethics to be compromised by offers that they cannot refuse due to personal circumstances, but which they will one day quite soon, “rue the day they were seen to be bought by the first citizen of the land.’

I think they should be the first to get the book and read it if they can, so that they will realize that some people make decisions that affect them personally for the rest of their lives, but they can go to their graves with dignity, knowing that they did not compromise on their principles.

Finding people of principle in a ever more seductive environment, where all the examples around us are that of success attributed to crime of one sort or another, and worse still admired by their peers as well as the state, some even being given state honors for the size of the crime, a hitherto unprecedented move. Let us think, reflect and be more determined to honor truth and justice.

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