Magazine article Editor & Publisher

A Pioneering Journalism Educator -- and 'E&P' Writer -- Hits Age 100

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

A Pioneering Journalism Educator -- and 'E&P' Writer -- Hits Age 100

Article excerpt

On April 23, students and faculty at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at San Jose (Calif.) State University are gathering to celebrate the 100th birthday of the man who started its daily newspaper, won its accreditation, led it for more than two decades, and taught budding journalists many, many more years than that.

Fittingly, the reception to honor Dwight Bentel will be held in Dwight Bentel Hall.

Mac Lundstrom, a former San Jose Mercury News reporter and editor who lectures at the j-school, says Bentel is the second-oldest building on campus. At 100 -- he turns a century old on Tax Day, April 15 -- Dwight Bentel is rarely the second-oldest in a room. In a phone conversation Monday night, he proudly told me he's the oldest surviving San Jose Mercury News reporter.

He could have easily added he's the oldest-living former Editor & Publisher reporter. I know I'm from Chicago and you're supposed to check that stuff out, but I'm pretty certain it's true.

E&P, in fact, got Bentel involved in what may have been his biggest story in a career that included reporting jobs at The Associated Press and the old San Francisco Call Bulletin.

Ed Kennedy was AP's correspondent in the European theater of World War II, and one of a handful of reporters who were told of Germany's surrender. The journalists were sworn to secrecy to delay news of the surrender until the Russians could enter Berlin.

Kennedy, though, got the impression the embargo had been lifted, and broke the story -- angering not just his rival journalists, but Dwight Eisenhower. AP officials, too, were furious, but at a loss of what exactly to do.

Bentel was in New York City, going to Columbia University, and reporting on the wire services for E&P. He walked into the AP offices as part of his routine coverage, and found the top editors talking disconsolately.

"Associated Press was very, very ashamed that someone had deliberately broken a pledge not to release the story," Bentel said. In fact, no one at AP even wanted to talk to Kennedy. Their solution was to have Bentel of E&P interview Kennedy about the surrender and the embargo.

"The astonishing experience for me was the story went out all over the country with my byline," he says. …

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