Share This Article

At what point, during WWII, would newspaper or radio news have informed the rural mid-america population that the Allies were winning the war?




Dear Anonymous,

From the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor onward, American newspaper and radio journalists reported whatever events occurred to the best of their abilities, but tended to play down the magnitude of defeats—usually emphasizing American sacrifice over enemy competence—while going into more detail on the successes. Radio, in particular, allowed a consistency in reporting, whether in coastal cities or in the Midwestern heartland. The Battle of the Coral Sea was reported as a great victory throughout the United States (which it was strategically) even while the Japanese were trumpeting it as their victory (which it was tactically). Midway, too, was touted in the American press as an unqualified victory, but nobody could have fully appreciated its magnitude until after the war. Only after the securing of Guadalcanal by U.S. forces and the German surrender at Stalingrad in February 1943 could the news legitimately claim a turning point in the war’s direction, and the “hard slog ahead” that followed kept every report of a victory qualified by the ever-present possibility of a major setback. It is most likely that the securing of the Allied beachhead in Normandy, combined with the Soviet triumph of Operation Bagration, the American carrier victory in the First Battle of the Philippine Sea and the taking of the Marianas by the end of July 1944 made legitimized American claims—and public perceptions—that Allied victory was inevitable.



Jon Guttman

Research Director

World History

More Questions at Ask Mr. History


Don’t miss the next Ask Mr. History question! To receive notification whenever any new item is published on HistoryNet, just scroll down the column on the right and sign up for our RSS feed.