Skip to: Content
Skip to: Site Navigation
Skip to: Search

Our first century

A mandate to 'lighten' still drives the Monitor at the dawn of its second 100 years.

(Page 5 of 9)


Skip to next paragraph

The massive human drama of World War II called forth the best from the Monitor. The Monitor's wartime coverage was marshaled by Canham, who was named the Monitor's top editorial executive in 1939 when Drummond moved to Washington as bureau chief. Canham, a Bates College graduate and Rhodes scholar, would lead the Monitor for the next 25 years – longer than anyone before or since. He was greatly respected in the world of journalism and became highly visible through his broadcast appearances and various public-service activities.

Monitor war correspondents including Gordon Walker, Ronald Stead, Mallory Brown, and Edmund Stevens were in harm's way on 25 major campaigns. They participated in more than 20 invasions, visited 53 bases, and, as a Monitor story noted, had "ridden in and on almost all the types of craft known to man."

Their award-winning coverage was planned and polished by international news editor Charles Gratke, who was killed on assignment in 1949 when his plane crashed in India. Beloved by his far-flung staff, he would leave the newsroom when greeting correspondents, to hide the emotion of the reunion from others. Canham called his loss, "a sad and severe blow."

One sign of the quality of the Monitor coverage during that period was the 1950 Pulitzer Prize awarded to Edmund Stevens for his scathing series on life inside the Soviet Union. "This is Russia – Uncensored" was based on his three years' worth of reporting.


The Monitor celebrated its 50th anniversary in what Susan Bridge's book "Monitoring the News" calls a "quietly triumphal style." The 1958 festivities included printing a massive full-color anniversary edition. That was complemented by publication of Canham's book "Commitment to Freedom" and the production of a color movie, "Assignment: Mankind."

In 1959, Canham took the unusual step of agreeing to serve simultaneously as Monitor editor and as president of the US Chamber of Commerce. Canham "used his stature and respect to enhance the Monitor's standing in the US and the world," said Hughes. One example: a 1954 photograph shot for McCall's magazine shows Sen. John Kennedy lounging outdoors in a chair wearing a T-shirt reading the Monitor with his wife, Jacqueline, standing over him reading along.


In 1964, the unenviable task of succeeding the legendary Canham (who stayed on as editor-in-chief) went to DeWitt John, at a time when the business climate for newspapers had grown markedly more difficult. Mr. John had worked as a Monitor reporter and staff editor, but had spent most of his career in the church's public affairs office.