War reporter sacked for greatest ever scoop finally gets apology
Published 05/05/2012 | 05:00
A JOURNALIST who was sacked for achieving perhaps the greatest scoop in history -- announcing the end of World War Two in Europe -- won a posthumous apology from an egregiously ungrateful employer yesterday.
Edward Kennedy, a correspondent for Associated Press, was denounced and then expelled from liberated France after being first with the news of Germany's surrender in 1945.
Tom Curley, chief executive of AP, yesterday acknowledged: "It was a terrible day for the AP. It was handled in the worst possible way." He described Mr Kennedy's dismissal as a "great tragedy", hailing a reporter who "stood up to power".
Mr Kennedy broke an embargo. Then a 40-year-old correspondent with US forces, he was hastily flown to witness the formal surrender of German forces facing the Western Allies at 2.41am on May 7, 1945.
But Winston Churchill and Harry Truman had privately agreed to keep this ceremony secret until the following day, when the Soviet Union would accept the capitulation of German forces in Berlin. As a symbol of Allied solidarity and a sop to Joseph Stalin, they wanted to announce the end of the war together and declare May 8 "Victory in Europe Day".
Mr Kennedy and 16 other journalists, who had observed the actual surrender on May 7, found themselves imprisoned by a 36-hour embargo.
However, he rang AP's London office to dictate a story on the surrender on May 7, ensuring that the news would be broken on front pages the next day.
But Robert McLean, then president of AP, issued a statement saying: "The Associated Press profoundly regrets the distribution on Monday of the report of the total surrender in Europe, which was distributed in advance of authorisation."
Mr Kennedy was expelled from France and his career with AP was over. He went on to become managing editor of the Santa Barbara News-Press in California. He died in a car accident in 1963. (© Daily Telegraph, London)