Editorial: Ernie Pyle (10-2-43)

The Pittsburgh Press (October 2, 1943)

Editorial: Ernie Pyle

From The Cincinnati Enquirer

The war has produced a great deal of fine writing. Many young reporters have become celebrities overnight through signed articles from the war zones. But the conflict has brought most vividly to the forefront a veteran of the typewriter, Ernie Pyle, whose word pictures from Great Britain and North Africa and the Sicilian fronts have captivated readers of scores of newspapers. Pyle’s name is mentioned among his contemporaries for a Pulitzer Prize.

Not so many months ago, The Enquirer and other newspapers contracted with John Steinbeck to go overseas and write about the common soldier. As Steinbeck warmed to his task, some fine pieces have come forth from his portable. Now Steinbeck is in the thick of it in the Mediterranean. Readers probably expected a typewriter duel of words which would have made journalistic history.

But Pyle has returned home for a well-deserved rest, before going back to the wars, in another zone. And recently he chivalrously commented:

Some people are speaking of Steinbeck and me as competitors in the field of war columning. I’m flattered by the inference. But there is neither competition nor comparison… I’ve always been a Steinbeck worshiper. For my money he’s the greatest writer in the world… I’m glad that Steinbeck is at last with the wars. For he carried to them a delicate sympathy for mortal man’s transient nobilities and beastlinesses that I believe no other writer possesses. Surely, we have no other writer so likely to catch on paper the inner things that most people don’t know about war – the pitiableness of bravery, the vulgarity, the grotesquely warped values, the childlike tenderness in all of us… The war is better for having him in it.

Here is journalism at its best!


What made Ernie’s columns great? Ernie’s writings put the average person in his shoes to observe what he observed and to let the reader make their own conclusions. He also saw the best of people.