Funeral Ernie Pyle By USN via Wikimedia Commons
“News is history,” Mark Twain said, “in its first and best form.” In
, at the Newseum, a spiral glass and steel sculpture—dedicated to the men and women who died while reporting the news—bears the names of over 2,246 journalists embedded in glass panels. As the morning’s first light appears, the memorial reflects the sun then tracks the passage of time until twilight. Washington D.C.
The first documented newspaper man to die was General James Maccubbin Lingan, in 1812. Lingan, a Revolutionary War veteran, was stomped to death in a
city jail. The General owned the Federal Republican, a newspaper that published an editorial two days after Congress declared war on Baltimore . The editorial stated that Americans should not involve themselves in the war of 1812—a “highly impolitic and destructive war.” After publication, rioters—equipped with axes and hooks—invaded the paper’s building and destroyed the printing presses. Publication of the paper was temporarily moved to England . On Georgetown July 26, 1812, Lingan, Alexander Contee Hanson—the editor—and their friends, all carrying weapons returned to . When darkness fell on July 27th, a mob surrounded the building. The Federalists, Lingan, Hanson and their fellow defenders persuaded to surrender were taken to jail—a day later, the rabble attacked the prison. Since that time Baltimore has been known as Mobtown. Baltimore
Elijah Parish Lovejoy, an American journalist, newspaper editor for The Saint Louis Observer and an abolitionist was murdered by a pro-slavery posse in
on Alton, Illinois November 2, 1837.
The first Associated Press journalist to die while reporting was Mark Kellogg in 1876. Kellogg died on the Little Bighorn Battlefield in
June 2, 1976, Don Bolles of the was murdered when a car bomb was set by the Mafia outside the Clarendon Hotel. Arizona Republic
Veronica Guerin, a journalist from
, began as a reporter with the Sunday Business Post and Sunday Tribune. She went directly to a source without considering any danger she might cause herself. Respected by both legitimate authorities and criminals, Guerin built close relationships with both. In 1994, she began to write about offenders for the Sunday Independent using pseudonyms for felons to steer clear of Irish libel laws. When she began to cover drug dealers she received numerous death threats and was murdered on Dublin June 26, 1996.
Rachida Hammadi, an investigative reporter for Algerian State Television died
March 31, 1995 after being gunned down by the radical Armed Islamic group. Her colleague, Horria Saihi of Le Matin wrote, “They aimed to silence you as a journalist...as an Algerian woman who hounded them daily by showing pictures of their barbaric crimes against innocent women.”
Daniel Pearl, a journalist who worked as the South Asia Bureau chief of The Wall Street Journal was kidnapped when he went to Pakistan as part of the investigation into possible links between Richard Reid—the shoe bomber—and Al-Qaeda. He was beheaded by his captors on
February 1, 2002.
One of the most beloved and famous journalists to be killed in the line of duty was Ernie Pyle, a Scripps-Howard columnist who covered the front lines in World War II. Pyle’s stories were about average American soldiers and their courage. His writings brought the war home. Pyle was killed by a Japanese sniper on
April 18, 1945 on the . “No man in this war,” President Harry Truman said, “so well told the story of the American fighting man.” island of Le Shima
The Journalist’s Memorial is updated and rededicated—several blank panes of glass wait to hold the names of reporters, editors, broadcasters and photographers who have died the preceding year in pursuit of the news, a free press and the peoples’ right to know. Last year twenty-four journalists died while covering the news.
They are remembered for their dedication to freedom.