The Pulitzer Prize Story: News Stories, Editorials, Cartoons, and Pictures from the Pulitzer Prize Collection at Columbia University

By John Hohenberg | Go to book overview

I. GENERAL ASSIGNMENT:
THE FACE OF THE AGE

"Do we ever overlook any questions, Mr. President?"

There was a roar of laughter from the more than 200 White House correspondents. The reporter who had asked the question tried to adopt a blandly innocent air, as reporters will on occasion. President Eisenhower grinned, then replied,

"I will say this: Once in a while, when some member of my staff comes in and says—just almost shakes his finger in my face, 'That is what you are going to be questioned on this morning,' I will go back and say, 'Who was that that was so smart?' So I don't think you overlook them, they probably just don't interest you."

There is, the President of the United States notwithstanding, very little that doesn't interest a reporter. In the city halls, legislatures, and courts of the nation, they are always listening, always turning the pages. Just as they throng to the weekly White House news conferences, they confront lesser officials at regular intervals with requests for an accounting. With the clang of the fire alarm or the sound of a shot, they are on their way to the story. At home or abroad they serve the right of the people to know.

As Rebecca West wrote,

"It is the presentation of the facts that matters, the facts that put together are the face of the age; the rise in the price of coal, the new ballet, the woman found dead in a kimono on the golf links, the latest sermon of the Archbishop of York, the marriage of a Prime Minister's daughter. For if people do not have the face of the age set clearly before them, they begin to imagine it."

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