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REVIEWS 241 REPORTER AT WAR* EooAR MciNNIS Any writer or speaker whose task is to deal with the progress of the war must ungrudgingly acknowledge his debt to the press and radio reporters upon whose work he so very largely depends. If we were confined to information from official sources, our knowledge would be scanty,indeed. It is because the best of the reporters go beyond these sources to supply first-hand information , based on their own experience and contacts, that they have earned our gratitude for the measure of enlightenment which we possess. The enlightenment is of┬Ěcourse very far from complete. The correspondents themselves are frequently unable to tell us all that they know. But within the restraints imposed by censorship they have done much to give us a picture which is free from major distortions . The great organs of information in Britain and the United States have developed a notable group of honest and indefatigable men who have made it their fundamental purpose to present the truth as they see it. They have sought it in remote regions at extreme personal ris)c. They have reported it in the face of technical difficulties and official obstruction. It is not as a rule the whole truth; but within the limits imposed by circumstances it has been enough to give us a knowledge of the main course of events, even though many significant facts are still lacking. That does not mean that the press as a whole is not open to serious criticism for its handling of war news. Only too often the immediate truth has been obscured by a willingness to play up unfounded rumours or to present speculative and misleading statements as though they were actual facts. And there are notorious instances of deliberate distortion of the news in the interest of a political bias. The task of sifting the reliable from the false or dubious is one which constantly confronts any reader in search of accuracy. But it is fair to say that the worst offenders are usually editors at home rather than reporters at the scene of action. As a rule, a man's own record provides a standard for his reliability and enables the informed reader to select the sources upon whose consistent honesty he can reasonably depend. There is of course a considerable body of vital information to *Suez lo Singapore, by CECIL B ROWN. New York, Random House [Toronto, Macmillan Co. of Canada], 1942, $4.50. 242 THE, UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO QU~RTERLy which eVen the best correspondents do not have access. The' purveyors of "inside stories" are numerous, but their wa'res are usually disapppinting. There are some instances of a time lag between a reporter's knowledge of events and the actual release of his story~ The war in the Pacific has provided a number of examples, including the year's delay in making public t,he full story 'of Pearl Harbour. ' But it is remarkable how seldom the books of correspondents, add anything of major significance to our actual knowledge. They provide us with interesti~g sidelights and valuable corroborative details, but they seldom alter the general picture which is already, available. That is not the result of censorship as such. The vital secrets remain as secrets known only to a small group at the centre of power. The correspondent released from censorship on his return to his ,native land is still limited by the gaps in his own knowledge. Those who have come out of Germany have been able to give us little accurate information about the state of production or conditions on the home front that has not been already made' available. Still less can they tell us what factors motivated the great strategic decisions of the High Command beyond what can be seen by the intelli'gent outside observer~ In one way that is a tribute to the amount. of news which the press actually succeeds, in gathering. But it remains true that the facts which provide the real key to the pattern of the war still lie very largely beyond our reach. Our knowledge of events is' great. Our full ~nderstanding of their significance must...


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pp. 241-244
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