Reading a lot of fascinating history today about the assassination of President Kennedy. This article: As It Happened: AP Wire Copy of the JFK Assassination from the Atlantic, is my favorite so far.
It’s an account of the reporters that worked around the clock on that fateful day in 1963 to get the news of the tragedy out to an anxious, information hungry public. The photos in the article really struck me…these paper wire printouts were the most advanced technology available at the time to disseminate news. These printouts (fascinating pieces of history in their own right), lined up next to each other in sequential order look just like….Twitter.
Back then, it was a handful of professional news reporters – on the phone and on the wires – supplying information to the world. How different would the same coverage look today? Hundreds or thousands of citizen journalists tweeting information (and misinformation) immediately, as things happened. Would the Zapruder film have been posted on Vine?
If news is the first draft of history, then these pages of raw wire copy are pieces of the rough draft.
Professional journalists – those tie-wearing guys who stayed up all night in November 1963 – aren’t the ones breaking the news anymore. But I think Journalism is more important than ever. With so much more raw material from which to assemble our rough draft of history, thoughtful analysis, good writing and keen perspective are more valuable than ever. Only difference is that you don’t need to wear a tie or work for the AP to participate anymore.