War correspondents have long entered combat zones at great personal risk, determined to capture the conflict for those on the home front. But during World War II, Toronto Star journalist Paul Morton found himself not just reporting the war, but fighting his own personal battle in a shocking turns of events that led to disastrous consequences for his career.
Morton volunteered in 1944 to parachute behind Nazi lines and report on the guerrilla war being waged by Italian partisans. But, after he spent two months writing a series, the British Army changed its battle strategy and ordered stories on the partisans to cease.
Morton's stories were “spiked,” and he was discredited as a correspondent. Morton was subsequently fired by the Toronto Star after they unfairly claimed his reporting was fabricated. Eye-opening and gripping, Inappropriate Conduct shares the dramatic true story of how Morton became the target of a ruthless campaign that shattered his journalistic integrity and his career.
Journalist Don North captures Morton's experiences from the beginning, using Morton's previously unpublished memoir and archival sources to create a seamless, powerful narrative that speaks to the tenuous relationship between the truth and propaganda during war.
"I have tried to discover the truth about Paul Morton for more than ten years, ever since my friend Peter Stursberg, a war correspondent in Italy and a friend of Paul's, told me the story. In many ways I identify with Paul Morton, since I was born Canadian and am a lifelong journalist with a deep respect for soldiers, prone to drinking too much, and often not very good at communicating with my bosses. Like Morton, I covered war close-up and to my regret,out of fear for my life, sometimes decided to go armed into a conflict zone.
In 1983, I spent two months behind the lines with the leftist guerillas in El Salvador, escaping with my life and a story for Newsweek—only to have the US Embassy there state that I was a liar for reporting a Salvadoran army massacre of civilians. I've spent most of the last fifty years not only thinking about, but experiencing the often rocky relationship of government and armed forces with the press.
So, yes. Paul Morton's experience strongly resonates with me, and made me want to find out why he suffered such an ignominious fate.