Determined, brave reporter broke new of World War II

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

There was a day when you couldn't post pictures of your breakfast to hundreds of friends, share a Tweet from the president-elect or berate officiating in front of thousands of football championship game viewers.

In those days, one had to be a professional journalist, dedicated to getting the story first, getting it right, and getting it past your editor before anyone could read a single word of your report.

Clare Hollingworth, source of the greatest scoop of the 20th century, died Tuesday at 105 in Hong Kong.

Known for her trademark safari suit, she was driving to Poland in August 1939 when the wind lifted a tarpaulin along the road, revealing thousands of troops, hundreds of tanks, armored cars and howitzers massing for the German invasion that started World War II.

The story was published Aug. 29, and Hitler's troops invaded Sept. 1.

Distrusted by people in power because of her inquisitive mind, she was occasionally arrested and accused of being a spy, but served her readers with aplomb.

Traveling with little more than a toothbrush and typewriter, she covered conflicts worldwide, from the Balkans and North Africa, Greece and Algiers, Arabs and Jews, Vietnam and many others.

She was the first to interview the Shah of Iran after he was installed in 1941 and after he was deposed by Ayatolla Khomeini in 1979, used her acquaintance with Indira Gandhi to gain access to cover hostilities between India and Pakistan, and was one of the first Western journalists to issue a routine byline from Beijing, starting in 1973.

She was seen climbing a lamppost for a better view of Tiananmen Square during the government's crackdown on civilian protesters in 1989.

Internet bloggers and Facebook pundits aspiring to become professional journalists could learn much by considering the life of Clare Hollingworth.

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