Issue Date: April 22, 2008
City: Washington, DC
American journalist George Polk (1913-1948) lost his life covering the civil war in Greece. One of the elite reporters recruited by Edward R. Murrow for CBS radio, Polk stood by his convictions, putting the story before personal safety.
As an outspoken critic of the Greek conflict, Polk exposed corruption in the U.S.-backed Greek government, and reported on the brutal tactics of the communists. Colleague William L. Shirer remarked, “George was more passionately involved in his work than most...I wondered if he realized whom he was playing against.”
Polk was murdered in Greece after angering both sides, and ignoring death threats. Three Greek communists were convicted of his murder, but controversy surrounds the trial. Many believe the real story was never revealed.
During his short life, Polk also reported for the Fairbanks Daily News, the Shanghai Evening News, and the Herald Tribune in Paris and New York. He wasn’t the first or the last reporter killed maintaining his journalistic integrity, but he set an example for others to follow.
Since 1949, the prestigious George Polk Awards have honored journalists who have reported on issues vital to the American public.
In 2008, the U.S. Postal Service issued a 42¢ stamp honoring George Washington Polk, part of the American Journalists se-tenant.