Edward Kennedy (journalist)
Edward Kennedy (c. 1905 – November 29, 1963) was a journalist best known for being the first to report the German surrender at the end of World War II to Allied nations, getting the word out before an official announcement from Allied headquarters. This angered Allied commanders, who had imposed a news embargo until the official surrender announcement for political reasons; the Associated Press fired Kennedy after this. The Associated Press apologized for the firing in 2012.
The documents for Germany's surrender in World War II were signed on May 7, 1945, at 2:41 a.m. local time at General Dwight D. Eisenhower's headquarters in Reims, France. Edward Kennedy, as the AP's Paris bureau chief, had been among a group of reporters hastily assembled aboard a C-47 aircraft, and only told they were to cover the official signing once aloft. After the ceremony, however, they were told that instead of a few hours of embargo, they were being asked by Eisenhower to hold the news for 36 more hours in order to permit Joseph Stalin to hold a ceremony in Soviet-occupied Berlin.
After a German radio station in Allied-controlled Flensburg broadcast the news, however, Kennedy knew that military censors must have allowed it. Evading wartime censorship, he phoned the AP bureau in London and reported the surrender. The story moved on the AP wire at 9:36 a.m. EST, mid-afternoon in France.
The official announcements of the surrender varied from German foreign minister Lutz Graf Schwerin von Krosigk early May 7, to Winston Churchill on May 8, and Joseph Stalin on May 9 (accounting for the Soviet Victory Day). The formal cessation of hostilities was at 23:01 hours on May 8.
Kennedy believed previous embargoes that he had respected were related to military security, but this one was simply political, because the Soviets were insisting on a formal signing ceremony in Berlin and the Allies had agreed to wait until that took place. Meanwhile, men were still fighting and dying. Opinion on Kennedy's scoop was divided; supporters pointed to the freedom of the press, but the AP eventually apologized. SHAEF disaccredited Kennedy and he returned to New York. The AP initially kept Kennedy on the payroll, but gave him no work to do, before firing him in November. The following summer, the military acknowledged that the German broadcast, made under Allied orders, was almost two hours before Kennedy's dispatch.
Kennedy's story was accurate, but he had violated the military's embargo. Both the military and other reporters were angry with him. Two days after The New York Times ran his story as the lead item, The Times wrote an editorial saying Kennedy had committed a "grave disservice to the newspaper profession." According to Time, the incident gave the press a black eye and "strengthened the censor's hand".
In 1948, in the August issue of The Atlantic Monthly, Kennedy published a personal essay about the embargo event entitled "I'd Do It Again."
After the war Kennedy became the managing editor of the Santa Barbara News-Press, and three years later in 1949 he was hired by The Monterey Peninsula Herald as the associate editor. Kennedy was struck by a car on November 24, 1963, and died five days later at the age of 58.
Memoir and AP's apology
In 2012, Louisiana State University Press published Kennedy's memoir, Ed Kennedy's War: V-E Day, Censorship, and the Associated Press. Associated Press President Tom Curley co-wrote an introduction to the book and apologized for the way the company treated Kennedy, telling an AP reporter, "It was a terrible day for the AP. It was handled in the worst possible way."
- "Edward Kennedy, 58, Reporter Who Flashed '45 Surrender, Dies". Associated Press via The New York Times. 1963-11-30. Retrieved 2007-12-21.
- History/Archives, The Associated Press
- Caruso, David B. (4 May 2012). "AP apologizes for firing reporter over WWII scoop". The Associated Press. Retrieved 4 May 2012.
- "The Army's Guests". TIME magazine. May 21, 1945. Retrieved 2007-12-21.
- James, Barry (1995-05-10). "A Grand Message, and the Messenger Who Sparked an Uproar". The International Herald Tribune. Retrieved 2007-12-21.[dead link]
- "Case Closed". TIME magazine. 1946-08-05. Retrieved 2007-12-21.
- Browne, Malcolm W. (August 27, 1995). "Reporters at War". The New York Times.
- "After the Battle". The International Herald Tribune. 1948-11-22. Retrieved 2007-12-21.