Join The National WWII Museum as we host author Mary L. McNeil, in conversation with Jenny Craig Institute for the Study of War and Democracy historian Steph Hinnershitz, PhD, to discuss the life and legacy of journalist Wallace Carroll. This webinar will premiere on our YouTube channel on Wednesday, September 6, at 2:00 p.m. CT.
Wallace Carroll was one of the most influential and respected journalists of the 20th century. From his first piece covering the 1929 St. Valentine’s Day Massacre to the withdrawal of the United States from Vietnam in 1973, Carroll was witness to many historic events in his 45-year career.
A diplomatic reporter in Europe during the 1930s, Carroll led United Press’s London bureau in 1939, charged with covering the looming conflict with Nazi Germany. After reporting on the Battle of Britain and the London Blitz, he made his way into the Soviet Union to cover the Nazi invasion in 1941 before returning home through Asia, landing in Pearl Harbor just days after the Japanese attack. He was one of the first journalists to view and report on the devastation. In 1942, Carroll was recruited to head up European operations for the US Office of War information, tasked with combatting German misinformation and “winning the hearts and minds” of those caught under the Nazis’ thumb.
Following World War II, he returned to journalism, serving as news editor for the Washington bureau of The New York Times before becoming editor and publisher of the Winston-Salem Journal and Sentinel. Under his leadership, the paper covered the demise of the tobacco industry, the desegregation of schools, and the Vietnam War, winning a Pulitzer Prize in 1971 for its reporting on the environmental movement.
Universally revered in the newsroom, Carroll’s story is particularly relevant today, as the world faces the war in Ukraine and continued attacks on the truth. What the West failed to understand, Carroll wrote more than 80 years ago, was the power of Hitler’s propaganda, which the Allies never overcame. It had been enabled by more than 10 years of lies and fearmongering. Long-term exposure to such propaganda could cause a similar result elsewhere, warned Carroll: “the Hitler legend would bear watching.”
Mary Llewellyn McNeil is a former editor and writer for the Congressional Quarterly and the primary author of Environment and Health, Reagan’s First Year, and The Nuclear Age. She has worked as an editor at the Smithsonian Institution and the National Academy of Sciences, and as a journalist at the Winston-Salem Journal. During a 28-year career at the World Bank, she launched two global publications, The Urban Age and Development Outreach, and wrote Demanding Good Governance: Lessons from Social Accountability Initiatives in Africa. A graduate of Wake Forest University and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, she resides in Washington, D.C., with her husband and three daughters. This is her first full-length biography.