By: Nu Yang
A group of nearly 40 journalists have rallied together to start a campaign to award a posthumous Pulitzer Prize to Edward Kennedy, the reporter who first broke the news of Germany’s surrender in World War II. Campaign co-chairs are Ray March, editor of the Modoc Independent News in Cedarville, Calif., and Eric Brazil, retired Los Angeles bureau chief for USA Today and former reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle.
Kennedy was Associated Press Paris bureau chief in May 1945, and was among 17 reporters who were allowed to witness Germany’s formal surrender. For political reasons, news of the surrender was under embargo for 36 hours so the Soviets could hold another surrender ceremony in Berlin.
But Kennedy broke the military embargo after learning the Germans had announced their own surrender in an official radio broadcast. He contacted censors and, since the safety of Allied troops was no longer an issue, he used a military phone line to call London and dictated the story. Kennedy was fired from his job for reporting the news.
Brazil said, at the time, other reporters were “mad as hell” because the biggest story of the 21st century had been scooped out from under them, and the military was “embarrassed” about the incident.
Sixty-seven years later, the AP publicly apologized for firing Kennedy, and former AP president and chief executive officer Tom Curley co-wrote an introduction in Kennedy’s memoir, “Ed Kennedy’s War: V-E Day, Censorship, and the Associated Press,” published by Louisiana State University Press.
“Time has healed that wound,” Brazil said. “Back then, there were pressures of war. Time has changed and people think more clearly now.”
Brazil said the campaign’s goal is simple: Get Kennedy the Pulitzer Prize he deserved. “It took incredible nerve to do what he did,” Brazil said. “He knew he would get a fusillade of criticism and it took great personal courage.”
March added, “This was an incredible moment in the history of journalism, and it’s a chance to clear (Kennedy’s) record and set it right.”
Brazil said Kennedy, who died in a traffic accident in 1963, always felt he didn’t do anything wrong, and if Kennedy were alive today and knew about this campaign, Brazil said his attitude would be, “I told you so.”