On The Trail of Ernie Pyle’s Cub Reports
by Gene Dickson, August 11, 2011
I have a hobby of reading war correspondent dispatches. I got addicted when I started reading Ernie Pyle's book ‘Brave Men.’ I have since gained an interest in cub reporters. A cub reporter is a reporter's first job.
Ernie Pyle's first job started in 1923 at the La Porte Herald. The La Porte Herald is still in business, though they are now the Herald-Argus, presumably because they merged with another paper named the something or other Argus.
I have been trying for a couple of months to contact the Herald-Argus. It is like talking to a brick wall. I started by emailing the business office. I got the address from their website. I also called the business office. Same deal, got the number from the website. There are some irregularities, but I only noticed them because I got no reply so I went back to the website to see what other numbers and emails I could find.
Turned out that the number I got for the business office started with a 269 area code and the other numbers start with a 219 area code. Also, the email ended in @pimginmi.com and all the other emails end in @heraldargus.com. So I sent an email to the original email I had used and at the same time sent one to the publisher. Brick wall. So I called the publisher and left a message. Brick wall. I went back to the website. The business office contact information has been removed from the website. I emailed where they ask people to send feedback concerning the website and pointed out that the business office contact information had been removed from the website. Waited a few days. Brick wall, and the website is still missing the business office contact information as I write. So I sent an ebomb. An ebomb is when you email everybody in an organization using the BCC option so they all think they alone got the email. Brick wall. I expected that the business office and/or publisher would get a dozen forwards. Maybe they did, but a brick wall keeps all secrets so why speculate?
A journalist has to answer calls and emails to function. I've done a limited amount of journalism. I know journalists and have met a few actual pros. I've also read a bit about journalism and it is absolutely true that a journalist must communicate to function. Stories take work; they seldom just fall from the sky into a reporter's lap, and when they do one still has to check up on details to get the facts right.
Ernie Pyle is probably the most famous American war correspondent of all time. You'd think that the Herald-Argus would be thrilled to hear that someone is interested in going through their archives and researching his early work. If I owned or ran the paper the first thing you would see when you walked in the door would be a big picture of Ernie with his name and the dates he worked there under it. Then again, if it was my call the collection would be published already. I wonder who ran the paper after WWII and why they failed to publish a collection then? The WWII generation and their parents were still a large population; somebody really blew it big time.
They could have put out a companion volume to Home Country and it would have done well. They hired the cub who went on to be the most famous American war correspondent of all time. What is their problem?
Here is the letter that I ebombed them with, though I have removed my email and the message number of the friend I was staying with. Also, I signed my given name rather than my pen name. I am doing this for personal interest. I would work with them if they want to put out a collection, but I'll go read even if I know they will deny permission to publish from his first works. I told them that in my first attempt to contact them.
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I have been trying to establish contact for about 6 weeks to do some research in the old Herald morgue. I've emailed and called to leave messages and what not, but seem to be unable to get a response. I tried to be more professional about this but I am very serious about researching Ernie Pyle's cub work and The La Porte Herald was his first employer. As previously stated, I desire access to the paper's morgue so I can read every last word he wrote at his first job. While I understand that old papers often donate the morgue to local libraries and/or archives, I have been unable to get a response to find out just what the story is at the La Porte Herald Argus. My story nose is starting to go off that I have a story brewing just trying to establish contact, much less find out the status of the morgue and get access. I am an Ernie Pyle enthusiast, and I love his work. The book Home Country has lots of stuff, but only back to his aviation work. His cub work is not there. I am unaware of any collections of his cub work; as far as I know Home Country is the only collection of his pre-WWII war correspondent work. Seeing as how Ernie is the most famous American war correspondent of all time there is room for another book. This period of his life is unavailable. I've seen references to various articles in the Tobin bio, but the articles are only referred to, not printed. I want to read them. I could be interested in doing another collection of his stuff. This is what I need to know:
Does the paper have possession of the morgue or is it in some archive or library's collection?
Where is it?
What do I have to do to get access to it?
How much did he publish before he was given a byline?
How hard will it be to ferret out his stuff from the period when he was just an anonymous reporter?
What else besides his published articles is there?
Is there any employment related paperwork (job applications, ??) or other materials whatsoever?
I tried to reach the business office, but the business office is not in the ‘contact us’ tab on the webpage though it used to be. The call I made to the business office was never returned. When I went back to the page it was no longer available. There were other weird things going on, like a different area code for the phone and the email did not end in heraldargus.com. My nose itches.
— Gene Dickson, Ernie Pyle Enthusiast
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Whatever is going on with these people, I have to return to California now and from here on out I will be communicating with certified mail. Guess what? The snail mail is also missing from the “contact us” section of the webpage! They have the standard copyright notice saying that you need written permission to use any of their articles for redistribution, so where is the snail mail so people can send a letter asking for permission? I got it from the white pages, all hail the internet!