U.S. Journalists in Cuba

"American journalists in this period have kind of a bad reputation. We think of them all as yellow journalists, just down there making up stories, but there were also a core of several really serious, well-intentioned journalists. They put their lives in danger, embedded with the troops, and were dedicated to writing the news as truthfully as they could. I've created a fictional journalist, but drawn from the biographies of several real journalists: Sylvester H. Scovel, Grover Flint, and Richard Harding Davis." — Playwright Melinda Lopez

Sylvester H. Scovel (1869-1905)
An engineer by trade Scovel was so captivated by the developing situation in Cuba that he traveled to New York in 1895 and secured a position as a war correspondent with The New York World. Captured by the Spanish while traveling with Cuban rebels, Scovel was briefly imprisoned and became a worldwide cause célèbre, ultimately being released weeks later. He continued to cover the conflict and reported a pivotal interview with rebel leader Máximo Gómez.

 

Grover Flint (1867-1909)
Flint served as a major with the US Army in the American West before signing up as a war correspondent with the New York Journal. Fluent in Spanish, he spent four months embedded with rebel troops. Though he was rarely able to get real-time reports back to the States, his book-lenght report Marching with Gómez, published in 1896, remains one of the most comprehensive works on the period, particularly in its look at differing social classes.

 

Richard Harding Davis (1864-1916)
In addition to being a celebrated war correspondent, Davis was also a novelist, playwright, and fashion model. His 1897 newspaper report "Death of Rodriguez" told of the public execution of a Cuban rebel by the Spanish military. Published in the New York Journal, the graphic and gripping description directed the public's attention toward the plight of the rebellion in Cuba.

(The journalist in Becoming Cuba is also named Richard Davis but is not directly intended to be the historical figure. Lopez explains, "I fell in love with the name Richard Davis and named my character after him, but he is not that Richard Harding Davis.")


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