Saturday, May 5, 2012

AP apologizes for firing journalist who broke embargo on end of WWII

In the second world war's final moments in Europe, Associated Press correspondent Edward Kennedy (pictured) gave his news agency perhaps the biggest scoop in its history. He reported, a full day ahead of the competition, that the Germans had surrendered unconditionally at a former schoolhouse in Reims, France.
For this, AP publicly rebuked him, and then quietly fired him.
The problem: Kennedy had defied military censors to get the story out. The British prime minister, Winston Churchill, and President Harry Truman had agreed to suppress news of the capitulation for a day, in order to allow Stalin to stage a second surrender ceremony in Berlin. Kennedy was also accused of breaking a pledge that he and 16 other journalists had made to keep the surrender a secret for a time, as a condition of being allowed to witness it first hand.
Sixty-seven years later, AP's top executive is apologising for the way the company treated Kennedy.
"It was a terrible day for the AP. It was handled in the worst possible way," said the agency's president and chief executive, Tom Curley.
Kennedy, he said, "did everything just right". Curley rejected the notion that AP had a duty to obey the order to hold the story once it was clear the embargo was for political reasons, rather than to protect the troops.
"Once the war is over, you can't hold back information like that. The world needed to know," he said in an interview.

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