October 18, 2019

Ed Kennedy’s War: V-E Day, Censorship

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, General Alfred Jodl signed the official documents as 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, generating instant controversy with rival news organizations angrily protesting, and the AP firing him.

In Ed Kennedy’s War: V-E Day, Censorship, and the Associated Press, Kennedy re-counts 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 gave 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. 

The book was edited by Kennedy’s daughter, Julia Kennedy Cochran. Cochran has worked as a journalist for The AP, Reuters and Business Week before working as a marketing manager for high-tech companies.

OPC member Tom Curley, President and CEO of the AP, wrote the introduction to the book and will lead the panel discussion that will include the topic of wartime relations between the military and the news media.

Panelists include John Darnton, who was with The New York Times for four decades and now curates the Polk Awards; George Bria, retired AP foreign correspondent who knew Ed Kennedy; Sally Buzbee, AP’s Washington bureau chief; and John Maxwell Hamilton, Professor of Journalism at Louisiana State University and author of Journalism’s Roving Eye, a history of American foreign reporting.

This event takes place on Tuesday, May 8 at 6 p.m. at AP headquarters, 450 West 33 Street. Books will be for sale and signing. Please RSVP to the OPC at 212-626-9220 or e-mail.