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Friday, November 29, 2013

JFK and the TV news

So last week, during the observation of the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination, I loved seeing the newspaper reprints.  The Daily News, Newsday, everyone did a reprint of their 11/23/63 editions.

And I found something interesting on the CBS News website.

Two interesting items, actually.

First was the website's coverage of Kennedy's death.  They live-streamed the 1963 broadcast in real time.

In this post-CNN world, we are used to 24 hour coverage of the news.  And when something horrible happens, like 9/11 or Dandy Hook, we know that our TV networks will drop everything and stay with the story.  And they know how to cover such a story.

Watching parts of the CBS broadcast from 50 years ago...they knew they had to be on the air, but it looked like they were inventing the media as they went along.  Cronkite in the news room instead of at his anchor desk so that he could receive and read printed bulletins as they came off the wire.  Telephones ringing in the background. Reporters telling what they'd seen on the streets of New York...And everyone so formal -- "The President's mother, Mrs. Rose Kennedy....the President's ailing father, Mr. Joseph Kennedy..." 

And during the funeral procession, they just ran the cameras, with no commentary.  today the anchor would have blathered on and on...

And in the Cathedral, they did have comentary -- because the mass was in Latin.  Pre-Vatican II.

(And if you go to YouTube you can find the complete NBC broadcast, with Frank McGee announcing the President's death by repeating information he was hearing on the telephone.)

And the other interesting item?  CBS News' Twitter feed, of course.  They were tweeting the assassination news in real time, as if it were 50 years ago.  It looked so real, even had links to stories on the website. the 21st century we get our news from the internet and the media.  We don't have to wait for the newspaper to arrive.

Can you honestly believe this?

  1. SHOCK in the streets: "I just can't believe it. I feel like someone in my own family has died. I just can't believe it."
  2. *Bulletin from Dallas* Gov Connally is in very serious but not critical condition after shooting
  3. "This man, I think, wanted to save America. His spirit lives," one mourner says:
  4. Rather, reporting from Dallas: Mrs. Kennedy maintained her composure until she saw her husband's body

    Of course, as the weekend progressed, the real news took over the Twitter feed, but they continued to tweet about JFK as well.

    As a student of history I found this all so very fascinating.

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