Posts Tagged ‘War Correspondent’

Clare Hollingworth: grande dame of war reporters

January 15, 2017
Clare Hollingworth in her war correspondent's uniform - note the shoulder flash

Clare Hollingworth in her uniform – note the war correspondent epaulettes

Only a week ago, I was writing about Women war reporters and ‘immersion journalism’ and a few days later, Clare Hollingworth, the ‘grande dame of war correspondents‘ died at the age of 105. She is truly one of the women who could have inspired the short story and illustration in a Woman magazine of 1945 about war reporter ‘Julie Wilson’.

In the 1930s, she went to Katowice in Poland, where she and her husband helping 3,000 Jews to escape from the Nazis, as well as Austrians and Germans who opposed Hitler — a role that earned her the Fleet Street nickname, ‘the Scarlet Pimpernel’.

She then talked her way into Daily Telegraph and landed in Berlin as its freelance foreign correspondent on August 26, 1939 — hours before Goering banned all civilian flights in German airspace. Days later she had her first scoop, though not with her own byline, by breaking the news of Germany’s invasion of Poland.

The Imperial War Museum holds Clare Hollingworth's epaulettes

The Imperial War Museum holds Clare Hollingworth’s epaulettes

Her litany of scoops is incredible: the first interview in a British paper with the young Shah of Iran in 1941; getting behind enemy lines in Egypt in 1941 — when she wasn’t even supposed to get anywhere near the front line; working for Time magazine after Montgomery banned her; learning to fly during the war; covering Palestine and Jerusalem (where her hotel was blown up) after the war, for the News of the World and the Economist; being the first to twig that Kim Philby had defected to the Soviet Union – though the Guardian wouldn’t print it for several months for fear of a libel suit; What the Papers Say award in 1962 for her astounding coverage of the Algerian war; covering Vietnam; the first female defence correspondent at the Guardian in 1963; the first resident China correspondent for the Daily Telegraph; watching the Tiananmen Square uprising in 1989 from a balcony of the Peking hotel.

In Leonie Mason's short story, Julie Wilson is an official war correspondent

In Leonie Mason’s short story, ‘Julie Wilson’ is an official war correspondent

She was given the James Cameron Award for Journalism in 1994 and a lifetime achievement award at the What the Papers Say awards in 1999.

In between all this, her great nephew, Patrick Garrett, has recounted many love affairs and how she threatened another journalist who was having an affair with her husband with a Mauser pistol that she pulled from her handbag.

From 1981 she had lived in Hong Kong with a regular table at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club, where she celebrated her 105th birthday in October with champagne.

There are two books about Hollingworth: her 1990 autobiography, Front Line; and the 2015 biography by Patrick Garrett,  Of Fortunes and War: Clare Hollingworth, First of the Female War Correspondents. The Imperial War Museum has taped interviews with Hollingworth from 2001.Her choice of luxury for Desert Island Discs in 1999 was paper and pens (with thick nibs).

Women war reporters and ‘immersion journalism’

January 5, 2017
A glamorous female war correspondent similar to Martha Gellhorn shown in a 1946 issue of Woman magazine

A glamorous British female war correspondent similar to Martha Gellhorn shown in a 1945 issue of Woman magazine

The International Association for Literary Journalism Studies (IALJS) has some cracking meetings – gonzo journalism being a recent subject – and the next one is about ‘immersion journalism’. It is, they say, what Martha Gellhorn, a US war reporter for the US weekly magazine Collier’s during the Second World War, would have called ‘the view from the ground’.

The concept of the female war correspondent dates back at least to Sarah Wilson and Elizabeth Charlotte Briggs, who reported on the Boer Wars in the 1890s for the Daily Mail and Morning Post newspapers, respectively.

Gellhorn began writing in the 1920s and then went with Ernest Hemingway in 1936 to cover the Spanish Civil War. She married him in 1940, but they split up five years later. The Spanish conflict was the start of a career that saw her flying off to cover just about every war she could find until she developed cancer and later killed herself in 1998. Another American woman famous in the role was Lee Miller. She did so as a photographer, at first as a freelance and then from 1940 for Vogue. She was famously pictured soaping herself in Hitler’s bath. After the war, she married the artist Roland Penrose and settled in Britain.

Parisian glamour for British readers in a wartime Woman magazine

Parisian glamour for British readers in a wartime Woman magazine

These female correspondents were glamorous figures, and were depicted in a short story, ‘No Other Love’ by Leonie Mason (a pseudonym of Winifred Walker), in Woman in February 1945. The illustration, credited to ‘Koolman: Carlton’, shows two women in a Paris café. One is in uniform with the designation ‘Official War Correspondent’ on her shoulder; she is ‘Julie Wilson’ a British reporter for a paper called the Daily Record (there was then, and still is, a Glasgow paper of that name). On the table between them alongside what look like coffees in tall glasses with metal holders is a packet of Lucky Strike cigarettes, a US brand relaunched in 1942 with a white packet designed by Raymond Loewy to appeal to women.

In Leonie Mason's short story, Julie Wilson is an official war correspondent

In Leonie Mason’s short story, Julie Wilson is an official war correspondent

Gellhorn wrote reports and fiction for magazines throughout the war and after, with her short stories being published in both Britain and, the US. As I show in my book, British Magazine Design, ‘The Long Journey’, for example, was published in the June 1952 issue of Good Housekeeping and then Woman’s Own (December 4). Other examples have titles such as ‘Come Ahead, Adolf!’ (Collier’s, Aug 6, 1938); ‘Dachau: Experimental Murder’ (Collier’s, Jun 23 1945); ‘Java journey’ (Saturday Evening Post, Jun 1, 1946); and ‘The Lowest Trees Have Tops’ (Ladies’ Home Journal, Aug 1967). The Fiction Mags Index has a substantial list.

French coffee and Lucky Strike cigarettes would have been luxuries in wartime Britain - rationing would not end until 1952

Coffee and Lucky Strike cigarettes – luxuries in wartime Britain, where rationing would not end until 1952

As the literary journalism academics explain, such work ‘uses in-depth, on-the-scene reporting, research and literary techniques to take readers into worlds that would otherwise be off limits’. They also give a more technical definition:

Immersion attempts to address the limits of conventional reporting by replacing the emphasis on deadlines and objectivity with long-term observation and the building of enduring — and often psychologically and dramatically complex — reporter-source relationships.
Immersion practices link literary journalism to other disciplines, primarily anthropology and sociology, with their emphasis on the role of the participant observer and “thick” description techniques used in ethnographies.
Historically, immersion journalism often imbued reporters with a distinct moral authority to call for social reforms. Current discussions of immersion techniques highlight the ethical dilemmas of being part of the story, the quest for authenticity, and the necessity of finding narrative in the “every day-ness” of immersion. The economics of the news business also factor in. How can journalism now afford the time and resource-intense practice of immersion? How will traditional immersion techniques fare in contrast to new technologies of interactivity and virtual reality that purport to give the reader an “immersive” experience?
Immersion also presents a challenge to the pedagogy of literary journalism. What practices are best for teaching immersion, particularly given that few students will have the schedule and financial support to attempt it?

The IALJS sessions will take place at the annual meeting of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communications in the US city of Chicago on August 9-12. It is titled ‘The View from the Ground: Rethinking Immersion.’ The editors are seeking academic submissions.