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[1971 • Akron Beacon Journal • General Local Reporting]

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PAPER PROVIDED IN-DEPTH LOOK AT KENT STATE SHOOTING

Though it may never be clear exactly what happened at Kent State on May 4, 1970, the world knows a great deal of what happened due to the staff of the Akron Beacon Journal.  

The day after the National Guard fired at students protesting on Kent State’s campus, the Akron Beacon Journal published seven pages of stories and photos of the event. The in-depth coverage of the event that killed four students and wounded 11 continued for several weeks, bringing the Akron Beacon Journal a Pulitzer Prize in 1971. 

Covering the Kent State shootings were reporters Ray Redmond, Jeff Sallot, Bob Schumacher and James Herzog and photographers Don Roese, Ted Schneider Jr. and Paul Tople. 

In a column published April 2000, Tople looked back at what it was like to experience that day. Tople, then a student from Kent working part-time as a weekend photographer for the Journal, remembers being sent to take photos of the riots happening on his very own campus.  

“To this day, I don’t know why I kept taking photographs, but I did,” Tople wrote. “Students took cover and ran as fast as they could. I just kept taking pictures.” 

Tople went on to become a photojournalist for the Beacon Journal.  

Redmond was instrumental in obtaining an FBI document that stated the National Guard was under sufficient threat to justify shooting because of a connection with a county prosecutor. 

The obituary for Redmond in the Beacon Journal said he had a “knack for being on the scene for the big stories,” noting his presence at D-Day while enlisted in the army for World War II as well as the Kent State massacre. 

The coverage of Kent State continued even as the area was placed under martial law and, according to the original article, phone lines were severed.  

The Ohio Bell Telephone Co. had the recorded message, “Due to the martial law in effect in Kent, the telephone company is closed.” 

Tople concluded that his involvement in the coverage had taught him the importance of the right to free speech and to protest.  

“At Kent State, I was learning to be a photojournalist,” he wrote. “When I took those pictures on that tragic day in May, I learned a lot more than that.”

by Annie Furia
PULITZER ENTRY MATERIALS:

Murray Powers, Kent State University journalism professor and former managing editor of the Beacon Journal provided the cover letter for the submission.

The Beacon Journal’s submission included coverage from the days immediately following the shootings, as well as longer-term coverage of investigations.

Biographies of the Beacon Journal employees involved in the Kent State coverage.

MORE INFORMATION:

The Beacon Journal front page from May 4, 1971, announcing the paper’s Pulitzer win.

Some photos taken by Beacon Journal staff during the protests.

Forty years after the Kent State shootings, the Beacon Journal compiled original articles, look-backs, and personal accounts related to that day.

The Akron Beacon Journal has won a total of four Pulitzer Prizes. Photos documenting the entry and the wins are featured on the newspaper’s website.

Fellow Pulitzer winner Connie Schultz, a Kent State graduate, reflected in a column on the lessons from Kent State that still apply in 2015.