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VE Day back story: Did the Stripes reporter keep his promise to delay reporting the Nazi surrender?

Here’s another take on AP reporter Ed Kennedy’s 1945 scoop on the Nazi surrender 67 years ago today – the story of Stars and Stripes reporter Charles Kiley, who covered the surrender negotiations and (unlike Kennedy) kept his promise to Allied military authorities to delay reporting the actual surrender for 36 hours.  David Kiley recounts in the Huffington Post how his father viewed Kennedy’s “cowboy” decision to break the embargo on his own. Good reading in full, though I’ll just quote one point here:

 “[L]et's not think for a minute that Kennedy was motivated by ‘the people's right to know.’ Recalling my father's account, I know he said the following to me, though it is not on tape: ‘Kennedy wanted the scoop, plain and simple.’"

Thanks for the on-topic comments so far. Any other thoughts about who did the right thing: Kennedy or Kiley?

Meanwhile, I couldn’t find a full version of Kennedy’s original story online, but here’s a link to the New York Times front page that carried that AP story.  

In case you were straining your eyes to read that front page, here’s how Kennedy’s story opens (from a printed collection):

“REIMS, FRANCE, May 7, 1945 (AP) – Germany surrendered unconditionally to the Western Allies and Russia at 2:41 a.m. French time today. (This was at 8:41 p.m., Eastern war time Sunday.)

"The surrender took place at a little red school house which is the headquarters of Gen. Eisenhower.

"The surrender, which brought the war in Europe to a formal end after five years, eight months and six days of bloodshed and destruction, was signed for Germany by Col. Gen. Gustav Jodl.”  

One final link, to the story of AP’s apology in the newspaper at which Kennedy was later editor, The Herald of Monterey County, Calif.  That story notes a local monument to Kennedy, inscribed with this succinct justification: "He gave the world an extra day of happiness."    

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Ernie Gates

Stars and Stripes ombudsman

As a journalist for more than three decades, Ernie Gates has been a reporter, editor and news executive, including 10 years leading the enterprising print and digital newsroom of Tribune Co.’s Daily Press in Hampton Roads, Va.

News for and about service members, families and veterans has always been a key focus in Hampton Roads, where every branch of the armed services has a significant presence.

As vice president and editor, Ernie was responsible for all news, business, features and sports coverage and oversaw the editorial page. He also wrote the daily Feedback column, responding to readers’ questions and comments about coverage, news judgment, journalism ethics, taste and other issues. Representing the paper as a public speaker, he focused on News Values and Credibility.

He is a past president of the Virginia Press Association and a past chairman of Virginia Associated Press Newspapers. 

Since leaving the Daily Press in 2010, Ernie has stayed active in public affairs. He is a member of the Advisory Board of the Lewis B. Puller Jr. Veterans Benefits Clinic at the William & Mary Law School.  He is also serves on the Coalition Partners Advisory Panel of the Virginia Coalition for Open Government.

Ernie and his wife, Betsy, live in Williamsburg, Va. They have three adult children.

Ernie Gates can be reached at ombudsman@stripes.osd.mil or (202) 761-0587.

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The ombudsman

Congress created the post in the early 1990’s to ensure that Stars and Stripes journalists operate with editorial independence and that Stars and Stripes readers receive a free flow of news and information without taint of censorship or propaganda.

The ombudsman serves as an autonomous watchdog of Stars and Stripes’ First Amendment rights. Anyone who fears those rights are imperiled should alert the ombudsman.

The ombudsman is also the readers’ representative to the newsroom. Readers who think a journalistic issue or event was misrepresented or ignored or who feel complaints were not properly addressed by Stripes reporters or editors should contact the ombudsman.