• U.S.

The Press: The Not-So-Silent Service

2 minute read

For nearly two war years U.S. newsmen covering the Pacific Fleet had chafed at red tape, slow censorship, slow transmission of dispatches. Now things changed. Twenty writers, five photographers, two artists and a newsreelman flew over, cruised near or landed with combat troops on the Gilbert Islands.

In the weeks before the Gilberts invasion CINCPAC Chester W. Nimitz issued a directive ordering fleet, force and unit commanders to extend fullest cooperation to correspondents everywhere. His brusque public-relations officer, Commander Waldo Drake (onetime Los Angeles Timesman), picked the correspondents to be taken along, decided which should go in planes, on carriers, in landing parties.

Faster transmission of news had already been arranged. Correspondents got the use of the Army’s radio transmitter on Guadalcanal, no longer had to suffer from the French-owned station at Noumea.

Last week the new policy began to pay off. Reporters’ eyewitness dispatches of the Gilberts offensive reached U.S. readers with only three-day delays. And for the first time names of units and commanders were promptly given.

Naval activity was not yet being covered as fast or as well as Army operations (examples: the invasions of Sicily and Italy). But Navy coverage was better and faster than it had ever been before.

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