• U.S.

A Letter From The Publisher, Nov. 2, 1942

3 minute read

To answer some of the questions our subscribers have been asking about how TIME gathers, verifies, writes and distributes its news.

Editor John Hersey of TIME’S World Battlefronts department walked into the office last week just seven days out of the Solomon Islands. He had flown the 10,000 miles from bumpy Henderson Field on Guadalcanal to the billiard-table runways of LaGuardia Airport in less than 160 hours.

Just seven days after Hersey got home, the Navy released the news of the sinking of the carrier Wasp. Hersey was on one of the ships in the Wasp’s task force when the carrier was sunk, and he wrote the eyewitness story of the sinking in TIME, this week.

By now, of course, the American war correspondent under fire is not exactly news; but every correspondent’s experience is different, and perhaps you might take an added interest in TIME’S stories on the fighting in the South Pacific if I tell you a little about the editor to whom they now owe much of their on-the-spot authority.

The day Hersey reached Guadalcanal it was strafed by Jap Zeros. The day before he left he watched the Marines shoot down eight of 27 Jap bombers trying to knock out our airfield—and he took off the day the Jap cruisers first ventured inshore to shell the American beachhead by daylight.

Closest call Hersey had was the day he flew out on a rescue mission to pick up an American flyer who had been shot down over the ocean. When his plane hit the waves it flopped over and sank. Hersey was strapped down to his seat with a parachute and a safety belt and had to climb out of the upside-down cockpit eight feet under water. And as if that wasn’t enough for one day, the plane that brought him back to Guadalcanal skidded off the runway and piled up in the coral-crusty mud.

Hersey was one of three American correspondents who accompanied our troops three weeks ago when they crossed the barbed wire to drive the Japs back 10 miles behind the Mata-nikau River. He was the only correspondent with the Marines when they got caught in a jungle valley which had been neatly registered for 81-mm. Stokes mortar fire by the Japs. Snipers and machine gunners were busy there, too, and for a while it was pretty hot.

Before Guadalcanal, Hersey spent a month at Pearl Harbor—and then two months on a carrier with a task-force in the South Pacific. His best story is about the bomber that saved one of the task-force ships by exploding a torpedo which had just been fired at it by a Japanese submarine. The plane actually dropped a bomb on the torpedo, exploded it a few hundreds yards from its target.

TIME’S primary job today as always is to piece together and coordinate all the news from all the world —whether from our own correspondents, or from our Associated Press service, or from the newspapers—to scan reliable information from every source. But no group of editors tries harder to keep close to the scene of action—military, political or other—in the U.S. or abroad. And the four months Hersey spent away from his desk are just a case in point.


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