From the December 24, 1943 Long Beach Independent:
INS Correspondent Killed on Wasp,
Honored by Cargo Ship Launched Here
The Liberty Freighter Jack Singer, named in memory of an ace newsman who died reporting "The biggest show of all time," was launched yesterday at the yards of the California Shipbuilding Corp.
The 10,500-ton vessel slid down the ways to take its place in America's victory bridge of ships after a tribute was read from Mark Hellinger, famous writer and motion producer, lauding America's reporters as "Among the bravest of soldiers."
Singer, only 27, died when Japanese torpedoes sank the aircraft carrier Wasp during the Guadalcanal campaign, which he was covering for International News Service.
One of 13 Liberty ships to be named after American war correspondents killed in action, the freighter was christened by Ruth Singer, 19, sister of the young reporter.
Hellinger's tribute was read to the launching audience by Hugh McDonald, master of ceremonies, after Hellinger had been stricken ill.
"I think it's a magnificent thing that Liberty ships--ships that will carry arms and food and ammunition to our armed forces and our allies--are being named for Jack and the 12 other American reporters who have lost their lives while getting news for the American people," Hellinger's tribute read.
"There has never been a time when America's press associations and newspapers have made a greater effort to give the American people the news, all the news, even if it's news we sometimes hate to read.
"Carrying the brunt of this huge effort are those good reporters, the war correspondents. On all the battlefronts there are more than 500 of them, risking their lives daily so that we, the people of America, can have our news. They are on our fighting ships, in planes over hostile cities, and with our soldiers in the turmoil and the blood of the very front lines."
Hellinger described them as "soldiers looking for the facts, who are searching out the truth, regardless of personal danger or sacrifice. They are among the bravest of soldiers, without guns.
"In launching this ship, and others like them we pay honor to Jack Singer and the 12 other reporters who have died," Hellinger's tribute continued. "Theirs, however, is not the only sacrifice. Four other correspondents are missing. Sixty-nine have been wounded. And each of them has been paying the price for being a good reporter, for getting the news when and where it happens."
And Jack Singer was a good reporter, Hellinger wrote, in tracing his brief but brilliant career. He told how Singer rejected high-salaried movie offers to become a sports writer for the New York Journal-American, "a job with less money but with far greater warmth."
Immediately after Pearl Harbor Singer went to J.V. Connolly, president of the International News Service and asked for "a crack at covering the biggest show of all time" because he thought he "could make good at it."
"There were no heroics in that statement," Hellinger wrote. "I know he wasn't thinking of adventure, or the smell of battle or the dubious romanticism that sometimes is associated with war. He was being nothing more than that which he had always been: a good reporter who had to be where the actual news was happening.
As a sports writer, Hellinger said, Jack Singer had been content to sit in the grandstand, but "now he was only too anxious to be out on the playing field."
Hellinger's tribute concluded:
"As long as this war lasts, there will be other good reporters to follow in the footsteps (of the 12 who died). These soldiers of the press will be on the battlefronts until we build enough guns and planes and tanks to crush Hitler and Tojo and all the evil they represent."
From the January 6, 1944 edition of the Ruston Daily Leader:
Youthful Dean Of American Newspaper
Men Reports The Air War On Germany
(Editor's note: Walter Cronkite is the youthful dean of American air-war writers in London. For a year, ever since his return to England from the American invasion of Africa, he has specialized in covering the Allied aerial assault upon the Nazis. He was one of the eight correspondents--later to become known as "the writing 69th--who composed the original group which qualified by rigorous training to accompany Flying Fortresses high-altitude missions over the Continent, and was one of the first newsmen to fly with American bombers which blasted the ports and inland cities of the Reich.)
Standing up in crowded trains, crawling over fog-shrouded roads in bouncing jeeps, riding bicycles over muddy lanes, American correspondents in Britain covering the air war are working night and day to keep pace with the mounting 'round-the-clock Allied aerial offensive.
With airbases now scattered almost the full length and breadth of England, the reporter's job involves hundreds of miles of arduous travelling--sometimes hundreds of miles within a single day--to report accurately and effectively the story of American and RAF air operations.
These correspondents are "musette bag and typewriter" soldiers. The musette bag slung over their shoulder contains their shaving kit, a towel, a bar of soap and--with luck--a clean shirt. That and their portable typewriter are "home."
And when the air war is at its peak--when the Eighth is out day after day and the RAF night after night--the unshaven faces and the redness of the sleepless eyes of these Soldiers of the Press match those of the fliers and ground crews themselves.
To report the air assault upon Germany, one of the great running stories of the war, the United Press has mobilized the pick of its London staff. Three members are assigned to the job full-time. Two others stand-by to augment this staff. Military experts in London constantly interpret the air war in relation to the world-wide picture. And a host of desk men are always at hand to give intelligent, fast, accurate handling to the dispatches from the "air bases somewhere in England."
Throughout last winter, when the American air effort was as a molehill to its present mountain, I was able to cover the story alone. With the coming of spring and the pyramiding of the American air force in England, I had to enlist help to enable the United Press to continue abreast of developments.
The full staff was assigned to the job sufficiently ahead of the need for it to enable its members to dig their roots firmly into the soil against the time when the speeded-up developments would brook no delay for experiment and path-blazing.
This foresight paid dividends in an impressive list of United Press "firsts" and "exclusives"--"firsts" like the revelation of Fortresses area bombing and "exclusives" like the touching story of the Mathis brothers, one of whom won the Congressional Medal of Honor because, though mortally wounded, he stuck by his bombsight until his "cookies" were gone.
Presently in the field and constantly on the go to cover every facet of the American side of the air war are two young United Press veterans, Collie Small and Douglas Werner.
They are the boys with the musette bags. Where--or whether--
On operational days, when the Fortresses and Liberators and Thunderbolts and Maurauders and Lightnings are out, these correspondents may visit as many as four different bases, each as much as 100 miles from the others.
Small and Werner stop at each base first to tackle flying operations and intelligence command--they will sleep when night comes--they never know.
ers to get the basic facts of the day's mission, and then to get the human, personal experience stories from the men who have just returned from fighting five miles high in the skies for their countries and for their lives.
After the fliers turn in to rest up for the next day's job, Small and Werner assemble and write their stories and send them, despite communication ball-ups and hazy, dim transmission lines to "the desk" at the United Press bureau in London.
There skilled desk men like William B. Dickinson, Paul Ault and Ed Murray--men whose names seldom appear over the air stories in the papers--assemble the Small and Werner reports into the fact-packed, fast moving account which United Press lays on clients' desks within minutes, sometimes even before Small or Werner have hung up the receiver at their end.
After telephoning, the correspondents may go around to the back door of the mess to beg a late meal from the chef--perhaps their food that day. Later they grope their way to a strange barrack where they'll crawl in beside some weary flier of bomb loader or an intelligence officer destined to be awakened in an hour to plan the next day's mission.
If there is a mission the next day, Small and Werner are at the grind again. But even if there is no mission, their routine differs only slightly. They take a little more time but they continue their unending tour of the bases, now to pick up the feature stories that come from reticent, modest fliers only on the "day after."
Yet all this effort and perseverance are not enough to achieve the complete coverage that United Press wants. Standing by especially to give the folks back home intimate, personal glimpses of their men at war are top-flight feature writers Jim McGlincy and Dudley Ann Harmon.
Armed with tips from Small or Werner--and with musett bags now swung over their shoulders--they dash into the field to pick up any undeveloped angle for another United Press exclusive.
In London, I am constantly kept busy assessing the facts, interviewing those "in the know" at the Air Ministry and Eighth Air Force headquarters, and seeking to interpret the developing air war, as well to call future plays so that Small, Werner and myself can be at the scene when the big story breaks.
Even here UP's constant attention to the air war doesn't end. Long-time stars of the UP's foreign staff, such as Virgil Pinkley and Ed Beattle, frequently dip into the subject to bring it into focus with the overall picture of the Allied and enemy war efforts.
Their interpretive dispatches are based on direct acquaintance with the generals and the air marshals who direct the war and on expert knowledge of the war itself, its battlefronts and the strengths and weaknesses of the armies there.
The four large independent news services of the era, the Associated Press (AP), the International News Service (INS), Reuters, and the United Press (UP), were understandably at the forefront of news reporting during the run up to World War II. As war broke out in Europe, it was Reuters and the INS that held the inside track reporting with mostly in-place staff reporters and stringers. Embeded, military-accredited, and civilian war correspondents attached to a specific military branch, service or activity, appeared shortly after Nazi Germany's declaration of war against the Allies at the time.
From these ranks rose many of the journalists, writers, foreign correspondents and future bureau chiefs of the greatest post-War news bureaus in the world. Famous names like Ernie Pyle, Walter Cronkite, Andy Rooney, Edward R. Murrow, Robert Trout, Ann Stringer, Bill Mauldin, William L. Shirer, Eric Sevareid, Charles Collingwood, and Howard K. Smith were but a handful of the Jounalism luminaries to cover the War. But it was the wire services and major newspaper and magazine journalists and stringers that comprised the vast majority of World War II coverage that passed the military censors.
Of the four major wire services, Reuters, the INS, the UP and the AP, the United Press and Associated Press were the most actively promoted and successful in the U.S. during the run up to War, during the War and during the post-War era. Their reportage was both historic and heroic, and easily the height of journalism for its era, but it was not without its commercial and promotional imperatives. The wire services were businesses; and highly competitive, cut-throat, take-no-prisoners businesses at that. The United Press got a huge boost in publicity when, beginning in the last months of 1942, it began recording, promoting and airing a series of at least 140, fifteen-minute documentaries on what they referred to as their Soldier's of the Press.
The Associated Press, not to be outdone, began placing half and full-page ads in newspapers throughout the country touting their own wire service and it's journalists.
Soldiers of The Press Premieres with Dramatized Press Filings
Virtually all of the pieces dramatized were almost verbatim accounts filed by UP correspondents in local newspapers across the country. In many cases the filed copy used in the newspaper postings were used verbatim as part of the Soldiers of The Press episodes.
For the most part, most of the Soldiers of The Press episodes aired within days or a couple of weeks of its companion filed news release. Indeed, as often as not, many of the correspondents' reports also aired over independent radio stations not affiliated with a network news service of their own. The variety and breadth of the broadcasts reflected the United Press' extraordinary reach and depth of their correspondents in the field. Covering every theater, every significant offensive and every major confrontation during the period 1943 - 1945, arguably the fastest moving, dynamic two years of World War II.