Ernie Pyle, the original embedded reporter
May 6, 2003 5:39 PM   Subscribe

I just read an article about a one-man off-Broadway play based on the war reporting of Ernie Pyle. Meanwhile, the IU School of Journalism is reprinting three dozen of his dispatches. It is interesting that Pyle, perhaps the original embedded reporter managed to report honestly about the horrors of war in spite of perhaps a more sweeping censorship department that read everything coming from the front. Pyle's description of Normandy (previously discussed) is a classic contrasting a beautiful day on the beach, the human and material wreckage, and even empathy for German prisoners of war. And then there was some black humor of surviving near misses that could have come out of Catch 22 or Slaugherhouse 5. His unfinished final dispatch reads like poetry:
"Dead men by mass production--in one country after another--month after month and year after year. Dead men in winter and dead men in summer.
"Dead men in such familiar promiscuity that they become monotonous.
"Dead men in such monstrous infinity that you come almost to hate them."
posted by KirkJobSluder (8 comments total)
A wonderful post, KirkJobSluder, thanks. I went looking for a photo and found this Ernie Pyle Writes of a Dead Man and of Mules - reporting from Italy.

Very timely too - May 3 was World Press Freedom Day. Sadly, James Miller, a British journalist, was killed by Israeli troops on that day. And in Iraq, 9 journalists and one assistant have been killed; 10 wounded, 2 missing.

We need brave and honest journalists like Ernie Pyle to bear witness to the world about what war is.

A global report on Press freedom in 2002:
25 journalists were killed because of their opinions or while doing their work in 2002.
121 journalists were in prison at the end of 2002.
Nearly 400 news media were censored in 2002.
700 journalists and media workers were detained for periods of varying length.
There were twice as many physical attacks and threats as the year before.
1,420 reporters were beaten, threatened with death, kidnapped, charged or harassed.
posted by madamjujujive at 8:24 PM on May 6, 2003

Ernie Pyle is a diamond in the rough, even in light of generational and cultural differences. I don't think they make reporters like him anymore.

Thank you for this post KirkJobSluder, NPR also did an expose on him recently, and I was having trouble locating it on their real audio site. Now, with titles in hand, I can head down to Half Price books.
posted by jazzkat11 at 9:01 PM on May 6, 2003

One of the things that bothers me about the current crop of embedded journalists along with the cooperative self censorship of the Iraq War is the lack of journalists the quality of Ernie Pyle and Edward Murrow. In today's era of soundbites Pyle's admission that the London blitz was the most beautiful and terrible thing he ever witnessed would probably have him canned. The lack of honest coverage is a loose-loose situation for both supporters and opponents of the Iraq war. If such brutal honesty about WWII helped to secure its place in history as the defining archetype of a just war, why the intense attempt to turn the Iraq war into a Jerry Bruckheimer film?
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:42 PM on May 6, 2003

Anyone notice the similarity in some of the linked photos to Arnie Pie (of The Simpsons fame)?

His balding pattern to be exact.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 11:51 PM on May 6, 2003

There's also a great movie starring the incomparable Burgess Meredith as Pyle called The Story of G.I. Joe. It also features some chump named Robert Mitchum, starring in his first role as one of the soldiers who befriends Pyle. You may want to check it out.
posted by ed at 11:53 PM on May 6, 2003

James Tobin, author of Ernie Pyle's War: America's Eyewitness to World War II discusses Pyle on NPR's Fresh Air. KJS, thanks for posting!
posted by Frank Grimes at 7:30 AM on May 7, 2003

Within the last few days I've been reading about these two war correspondents. I would very much like to introduce them to each other.
Mr Pyle, meet Mr. Crittenden.
Mr Crittenden, meet Mr. Pyle.
He is a man to whom you cannot say "Screw you, you weren't there".
posted by Termite at 11:06 AM on May 7, 2003

That second link doesn't (expletive) work. It was meant to go here.
posted by Termite at 11:10 AM on May 7, 2003

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