LSU Press Book Offers Historical Insight into War Reporting and Freedom of the Press
AP to Recognize WWII Combat Reporter Ed Kennedy as the Embodiment of American Journalism Decades after Firing Him
BATON ROUGE – On May 7, 1945, Associated Press reporter Ed Kennedy became the most famous – or infamous – American correspondent of World War II.
On that day in France, Gen. Alfred Jodl signed the official documents as the Germans surrendered to the Allies. Army officials allowed a select number of reporters, including Kennedy, to witness this historic moment, but then instructed the journalists that the story was under military embargo. In a courageous but costly move, Kennedy defied the military embargo and broke the news of the Allied victory. His scoop generated instant controversy. Rival news organizations angrily protested, and the AP fired him several months after the war ended.
“Ed Kennedy’s War: V-E Day, Censorship, and the Associated Press,” to be published in May by LSU Press, is an absorbing and previously unpublished personal account where Kennedy recounts his career as a newspaperman from his early days as a stringer in Paris to the aftermath of his dismissal from the AP. During his time as a foreign correspondent, he covered the Spanish Civil War, the rise of Mussolini in Italy, unrest in Greece, and ethnic feuding in the Balkans. During World War II, he reported from Greece, Italy, North Africa and the Middle East before heading back to France to cover its liberation and the German surrender negotiations. His decision to break the news of V-E Day made him front-page headlines in the New York Times. In his narrative, Kennedy emerges both as a reporter with an eye for a good story and an unwavering foe of censorship.
“Ed Kennedy’s War” begins with a powerful introduction by Tom Curley, president and CEO of the Associated Press, and John Maxwell Hamilton, author of “Journalism’s Roving Eye.” They describe Kennedy’s story as one of integrity and courage:
“Perhaps in some small way we bring posthumous recognition to an American hero and embrace – too belatedly – what … the AP board could not admit. Edward Kennedy was the embodiment of the highest aspirations of the Associated Press and American journalism.”
In addition to the introduction, a prologue and epilogue by Kennedy’s daughter, Julia Kennedy Cochran, is also included. Their work draws upon newly available records held in the Associated Press Corporate Archives.
Events honoring this publication will be held on May 7 and 8 in New York and Washington, D.C., hosted by the AP.
Cochran worked as a journalist in New York for the Associated Press, Reuters and Business Week magazine. She obtained an MBA at Columbia University and worked as a marketing manager at high-tech companies in New York and Seattle. Curley, who recently announced his retirement, has lead the AP since June 2003. Hamilton is founding dean of the Manship School of Mass Communication at LSU and currently serves as LSU executive vice chancellor and provost. He is the author or coauthor of six books, most recently “Journalism’s Roving Eye.”