January 15, 2022

1940. United Press Job Posting from World War II

The UP Calls for Reporters to Cover the War
Several of the Murrow Boys in London, 1944. (From left to right: Richard C. Hottelet, Gene Ryder, Bill Downs, Charles Collingwood, and Charles Shaw)
During the war, Edward R. Murrow hired key reporters from the United Press to serve as CBS war correspondents. This included Larry LeSueur (1939), Eric Sevareid (1939), Howard K. Smith (1941), Charles Collingwood (1941), Bill Downs (1942), and Richard C. Hottelet (1944).

Notably, Murrow also sought Walter Cronkite to relieve Bill Downs at the CBS Moscow bureau in 1944, but Cronkite ultimately decided to stay with the UP.

In January, 1940, the United Press distributed an internal memo seeking reporters willing to go to London to cover the war:

General News Manager

January 30, 1940

Memorandum to Domestic Bureaus
cc -- Division Managers and Business Representatives.

Europe needs more good men from the domestic service.

Please put this memo on your bulletin board and let's see who can qualify.

Here is what it takes:

1. Single men. The Department of State will not issue passports to wives, and leaving wives behind is bad business.

2. At least one, preferably two years of training in the domestic service, so that you know the clientele of the United Press in this country and how domestic bureaus operate.

3. Fluency in at least one language in addition to English—preferably German, French, or Italian. Just a smattering of another language or a record of having studied it in college is not enough. Europe needs men who can walk into Berlin or Paris or Bucharest, and talk fluently with officials and especially on the telephone with string correspondents who may not know any English. If you are one of those who think they could "brush up" a foreign language in a month or so in some foreign capital, please do your brushing up right where you are. Our managers in Europe cannot absorb candidates of that kind in the present emergency.

4. A burning desire to work in the European service, but you must understand that most of the jobs over there are not "war correspondent" jobs. The newcomer is more likely to be assigned to a big relay bureau editing and filing news from the men at the front.

5. A strong constitution with plenty of reserve energy to meet the news emergencies which are likely to get worse in Europe before they get better.

6. Personality and presence. That is to say, a man should be personable enough to represent the United Press abroad, where more importance attaches to appearance than in some parts of this country.

Any candidates?


Earl J. Johnson