The Ed Kennedy project: Journalists push for two posthumous Pulitzer prizes

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    It is one of the great ironies of American journalism that Edward Kennedy, once vilified by colleagues, ejected from Europe by the U.S. Army and sacked by the AP for his exclusive report of Germany’s World War II surrender in defiance of  political censorship, is now the subject of two efforts to rectify a journalistic injustice by awarding him a Pulitzer Prize posthumously.

   One effort is a grassroots campaign launched from, of all places, Cedarville, CA in rural Modoc County by Ray A. March, editor of the Modoc Independent News monthly newspaper, to win a posthumous Pulitzer for hard news international reporting. March worked for Kennedy as a cub reporter at the Monterey Peninsula Herald half a century ago,

“After reading and reviewing 'Ed Kennedy’s War: V-E Day, Censorship & The Associated Press,' it was obvious to me that Kennedy had been denied a Pulitzer and it was time to correct an injustice,” March said, emphasizing that campaign supporters are professional reporters, editors, and photographers, and the campaign is catching fire. 

They include San Francisco Chronicle editor Ward Bushee, Pulitzer Prize winning photographers Kim Komenich and Sal Veder, San Francisco Bay Guardian editor at large Bruce B. Brugmann, former AP legal reporter Bob Egelko and Frank McCulloch, former managing editor of the Los Angeles Times, executive editor of the Sacramento Bee and chief Southeast Asia correspondent for Time, Inc.

    “Formal acknowledgment by the Pulitzer people of  Ed Kennedy’s courageous and enterprising news reporting is 67 years overdue,”  said campaign co-chair Eric Brazil, retired Los Angeles bureau chief for USA Today and a former reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle.

   The other effort is a move by Louisiana State University and retiring AP president and CEO Tom Curley to enter “Ed Kennedy’s War,’’ recently published by LSU Press, in the Pulitzer competition based on its literary qualities. 

The memoir has reposed, unpublished, in a filing cabinet since Kennedy’s death at age 58 in November, 1963, when he was struck by a car while a pedestrian in Monterey, where he was editor and associate publisher of the Monterey Peninsula Herald. 

    In a formal apology last May, Curley said that its repudiation of Kennedy “was a terrible day for the AP.  It was handled in the worst possible way… Kennedy did everything right.’’ 

   In a subsequent interview, he elaborated:  “Once the war is over, you can’t hold back information like that.  The world needed to know.’’ Curley has co-written the introduction to Kennedy’s memoir. 

       Kennedy was among 17 reporters from major western news outlets allowed to witness Germany’s formal surrender on May 7, 1945, on condition that they agreed not to break the news for 36 hours.   Unbeknownst to the reporters at the time, that suppression was the result of an agreement between U.S. President Harry Truman and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill to allow Russian Premier Joseph Stalin to hold a second surrender ceremony in Berlin.

    The embargo was broken shortly after Kennedy learned that news of the German surrender was being broadcast to Germany from a radio station in Flensburg, Germany.   He contacted military censors and said that since the cat was out of the bag and the security of Allied troops was no longer an issue, he intended to defy censorship and report the news, which he proceeded to do – using a military phone line -- thereby registering the biggest news scoop of the entire war.

   Julia Kennedy Cochran, Ed Kennedy’s daughter, saved his unpublished memoir and pressed for its publication. She was the first to join March and Brazil in the campaign to see her father awarded a Pulitzer.

    When asked how she felt about a network of journalists supporting her father for a posthumous Pulitzer, she said she was surprised and honored.

    “It is astonishing that my father's story still elicits so much interest among journalists. I am thrilled and honored that so many of them are signing on to the campaign for a posthumous Pulitzer for him,” she said in a recent interview.

     Anyone interested in joining the “Ed Kennedy Project,” can do so by contacting March at ramarch@frontiernet.net.

          Eric Brazil and Ray A. March

          Carl Nolte's piece in the San Francisco Chronicle: http://www.sfgate.com/nation/article/Pulitzer-campaign-for-Edward-Kenned...

 

 

 

 

 

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