Escape from Japanese internment, battles with the Ku Klux Klan, a Hawaiian dock strike, and a Denver Penitentiary experience are all normal parts of the backgrounds of this year's Nieman Fellows.
The twelve newspapermen chosen annually by the Nieman Foundation to study at the University every year make up one of the most colorful groups in Cambridge, and the 1951-52 contingent is no exception.
Most widely traveled of the present set is Robert P. "Paper" Martin, war correspondent for CBS and the Overseas News Agency, who has spent the past year and a half broadcasting from Korea and Tokyo. His assignments have taken him all the way from Shanghai to Athens.
In 1941 he was working for the New York Post in Shanghai when the Japanese interned him along with other American correspondents just after Pearl Harbor. Nineteen days later, on Christmas Eve, 1941, he managed to elude his guards and with the aid of Chinese Guerillas escape to free China. Along the way he had to hide out from Japanese patrols by crouching in sand pits and covering himself with cabbages.
From 1943 to 1945 he covered the Pacific theatre for Time and Life and ended up aboard the Missouri to witness the Japanese surrender. From there he followed the Chinese civil war and later arrived in Palestine in time for the Israeli-Arab conflict.
Next on his itinerary were the Greek civil war and assignments in Turkey. He returned to Shanghai late in 1948 just a few months before the Chinese Communists took over, and was working in Tokyo when the Korean war broke out.
Criticism of General MacArthur nearly got this experienced war reporter ousted from Korea some time before the General himself was relieved of his command. MacArthur owes much of his troubles with the press to his being "thin-skinned," Martin thinks.
The Eighth Army now fighting in Korea is "the best U. S. army I've ever seen" Martin reports. A lot of their present skill he attribute to General Ridgway's "tremendous faculty for inspiring teamwork."
Another Nieman follow, whose work is just as exciting but rarely takes him outside his home town, is Alfred G. Ivey, Associate Editor of the Winston-Salem Journal and Sentinel, of Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
Ivey's paper has been influential in promoting better race relations in the South, and he hopes the Social Relations Department here will make him better equipped to write successful editorials.
One problem that has been a telling one in the South Ivey has discussed with Gordon W. Allport '19, Professor of Sociology. The problem is to check enthusiasm so that reforms are not instituted too rapidly. "Sometimes if you go too fast it'll boomerang," Ivey explained.
The Winston-Salem daily has long fought for greater education and economic opportunities for Negroes. It has also been violently opposed to a revival of the Ku Klux Klan in the Carolinas.
The first Hawaiian newsman to win a Nieman fellowship, Lawrence K. Nakatsuka, is assistant city editor of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Hawaii's largest daily and a staunch exponent of that island's statehood.
Nakatsuka is a labor expert for his paper and is studying economics here. In 1949 he covered the Hawaiian longshoremen's strike, called by Harry Bridges, which practically cut off the island's supply line for nearly six months.
First Pearl Harbor Extra
He was working on the paper at the time of the Pearl Harbor attack, and the Star-Bulletin was the first paper to put out an on-the-scene war extra.
Representing the Rocky Mountain Empire is Nieman John Givando of the Denver Post who has recently completed an expose of prison conditions in Colorado. His study took him on visits to penitentiaries all over the country, where he vigorously called for reforms.
"We go in for old-fashioned crusading," Givando explained; "it's encouraging to know that a newspaper can still force changes."
Not so popular in the West was Givando's article which condemned cattlemen for holding back steers from the market in order to kill government meat controls. In this crusade the Denver post was not successful.