The Kansas City Milkman
Thursday 3 September 2020
Evelyn Waugh’s Scoop was a classic on Fleet Street journalism as Bernard Edinger points out.
For wire service journalism I like The Kansas City Milkman by United Press veteran Reynolds Packard, an American. Published in 1950 it was reprinted in paperback as Dateline Paris and tells of an election in which a news agency was first with the result. It turned out to be wrong. Rather than withdraw or correct the story the agency reported that a recount had been made and then issued the right result.
Packard has been quoted as saying: "If you've got a good story, the important thing is to get it out fast. You can worry about details later. And if you have to send a correction, that will probably make another good story.”
Like Waugh, Packard covered the Ethiopian-Italian war. He also covered the Spanish civil war and the Allied push from North Africa through Italy during World War Two. I met him in the 1960s in Rome where he had been UP bureau chief and then correspondent of The New York Daily News. He retired in Rome and died there in 1976. ■