When Truth Mattered: The Kent State Shootings 50 Years Later

Robert Giles

When Truth Mattered is a gripping, authoritative account of a young editor and his staff painstakingly pursuing the truth of the Kent State shootings on May 4, 1970 – a tragedy that has haunted the nation for 50 years and significantly changed the debate about the Vietnam War.

The editor, Robert Giles, takes you inside the turmoil and drama of the Akron Beacon Journal newsroom on that fateful day, and on campus at Kent State University, a Midwestern college under siege. The heart-pounding story captures the flash of National Guard rifles, the bloody aftermath of four students killed and nine wounded, and the stress of reporters hurrying to sort fact from fiction for a horrified world wanting to know “what” and “why.”

The Beacon Journal’s Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage created a truthful narrative that has stood unchallenged and unchanged for five decades. It also provides an urgent lesson for today: What is the role of truth in media? Can you trust the news that you’re hearing and seeing? If not, how do you equip yourself? When Truth Mattered shows how journalism was done right … and how those standards must still be applied today.

Robert Giles has crafted an absorbing and meticulous story of how one newspaper –– The Akron Beacon Journal –– told the truth about a national tragedy in a time, like our own, when Americans were deeply divided. I’ve never seen a better demonstration of why good journalism matters. — James Tobin, author of Ernie Pyle’s War: America’s Eyewitness to World War II; professor of journalism, Miami University

From the editor who led his newsroom through one of the nation's saddest moments comes this story of a painstaking pursuit of the truth — and a searing reminder of how sorely we lack it today. — Geneva Overholser, Pulitzer Prize-winning editor, journalism consultant and advisor

When Truth Mattered is a newsroom thriller that truly uplifts and educates. Giles’ genius as the consummate reporter and brilliantly paced storyteller offers us a front row seat to an American tragedy. We see news — truth — reported as history is being made. Giles’ reflections on a lifetime spent reporting and editing offer all of us lessons on reading today’s headlines. This is an essential and dramatic book. — Doug Stanton, #1 New York Times best-selling author

Robert Giles forged his status as one of the legendary newspaper editors in modern American history on May 4, 1970, with his steady stewardship of the Akron-Beacon Journal on the day of the Kent State shootings. This never-before-told account will take you inside the turmoil and drama of the newsroom, the campus of Kent State and the city of Akron. At a time when journalists are under attack from the very highest levels of government, this book is a reminder of why journalism — especially local journalism — is one of the last great guarantors of our democracy. — Guy Raz, host, creator of NPR’s TED Hour and I Built This