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

VII. COLD WAR AND HOT:
FROM KOREA TO HUNGARY

It is fashionable to call the Korean War the worst-reported conflict in American history. It wasn't.

Anybody who was there knows what incredible feats war correspondents performed to get news to the American people. If many editors chose to bury it, or cut it to ribbons; if people didn't like to read about it, that was obviously not the fault of the men and women who risked their necks at the battle fronts.

The reporters told the story, hour by hour, day by day, whether the news was of qualified victories or stunning defeats. Prize-winners or not, they stuck out the war that couldn't be won and couldn't be lost. Consider just one example:

Quite by accident on the morning of Sunday, June 25, 1950, Jack James of the United Press ran into an American intelligence officer at the Embassy in Seoul. It was raining and James, remembering he had left his raincoat at the Embassy, had gone there to retrieve it. But the intelligence officer didn't know that.

"What have you heard from the border?" he asked.

James didn't know what the officer was talking about but he played it dead-pan. "Not much. What have you heard?"

"Hell, I've heard nothing since the report that the North Koreans had crossed the 38th Parallel everywhere except in the area of the 8th Division."

James checked. It didn't take him long to find out that the invasion was on. The first UP bulletins went out. Before noon the first

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