David Shedden

David Shedden is a researcher and the library director at the Poynter Institute. Poynter Online daily feature: Today in Media History http://www.poynter.org/category/media-history/

P-Hurricane Katrina

Today in media history: Reporting the tragic story of Hurricane Katrina

On August 24, 2005, a tropical storm is given the name Katrina. It hits Florida and after growing in the Gulf of Mexico, Hurricane Katrina makes landfall 60 miles southeast of New Orleans on the morning of August 29th.

(Video from National Geographic: “Hurricane Katrina Day by Day”)

The New Orleans Times-Picayune and the Biloxi-Gulfport Mississippi Sun Herald are awarded a Pulitzer Prize for their coverage.

September 1, 2005

An excerpt from a story in the Sun Herald:

Frustration at slow emergency response grows on Mississippi coast
By Scott Dodd

“BILOXI — Overwhelming need gripped the Mississippi Coast two days after Hurricane Katrina dealt the region a devastating blow.

In the hardest-hit areas, where hundreds of people lost their homes, cars and everything they own, parents wandered the streets Wednesday begging for water for their babies, and local officials grew frustrated at the slow response.

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P-King Speech

Today in media history: Dr. Martin Luther King’s 1963 ‘I Have a Dream’ speech

August 28, 1963
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivers his “I Have a Dream” speech to an estimated 200,000 people on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington. Time Magazine reports:

“I have a dream,” King cried. The crowd began cheering, but King, never pausing, brought silence as he continued. “I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. I have a dream,” he went on, relentlessly shouting down the thunderous swell of applause, “that even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with people’s injustices, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.” Cheers.

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Today in media history: New York Post reports the British have attacked Washington, D.C.

Here are two events that happened on this date and a trivia question.

August 27, 1814
The New York Post reports that the British army has attacked Washington, D.C. The invasion became one of the key military engagements during the War of 1812. According to the book, “Encyclopedia of American Journalism,” “The American press played an important role in the years of growing tension. Newspapers provided information about the arguments with Great Britain prior to the war and details of the military conflict once war was declared.” On this date in 1814, The New York Post writes:

This day we have the disagreeable task of recording the capture and destruction of the city of Washington, the capital of the United States!….Is it possible that after being two years at war, our capital, the seat of our general government should have been left so defenseless?

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Today in media history: Newspaper front pages remember Edward Kennedy

August 26, 2009
On this date in 2009, newspaper front pages reported on the death of Massachusetts senator Edward Kennedy, who had passed away the day before. Here is a collection of pages from that week.

Senator Edward M. Kennedy, who carried aloft the torch of a Massachusetts dynasty and a liberal ideology to the citadel of Senate power, but whose personal and political failings may have prevented him from realizing the ultimate prize of the presidency, died at his home in Hyannis Port last night after a battle with brain cancer. He was 77.

“We’ve lost the irreplaceable center of our family and joyous light in our lives, but the inspiration of his faith, optimism, and perseverance will live on in our hearts forever,” his family said in a statement.

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Today in media history: Reporting on the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew

Three events that happened on this date and a trivia question.

August 25, 1835
The New York Sun reports that astronomer Sir John Herschel has discovered life on the moon. The “Great Moon Hoax” is described in the following excerpt:

The first installment of the moon hoax appeared in the August 25, 1835 edition of the New York Sun on page two, under the heading “Celestial Discoveries.” The brief passage read in part as follows: “We have just learnt (sic) from an eminent publisher in this city that Sir John Herschel at the Cape of Good Hope, has made some astronomical discoveries of the most wonderful description, by means of an immense telescope of an entirely new principle.”

….On August 25, the Sun ran four columns describing what Sir John had been able to see, looking at the moon through his telescope.

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Today in media history: In 1762, Ann Franklin becomes one the first women newspaper publishers

Three events that happened on this date and a trivia question.

August 22, 1762
Ann Franklin, the sister-in-law of Benjamin Franklin, becomes the sole editor and publisher of the Newport Rhode Island newspaper, the Newport Mercury. She had earlier worked with her husband and son on other publications. Ann Franklin, later named to the Rhode Island Journalism Hall of Fame, is considered one of the first women to run a colonial newspaper. The later part of her life is described in the following excerpt:

Successful as a printer and businesswoman, Franklin also assumed the responsibilities of a master craftsman, training her two surviving daughters as typesetters and shopkeepers. Her surviving son, James Jr., was dispatched to Philadelphia to apprentice with his uncle, Benjamin Franklin, returning to Newport in 1748 as a partner in his mother’s business.

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Today in media history: Journalists introduced to TV in 1928

Three events that happened on this date and a trivia question.

August 21, 1858
The first of seven debates between Illinois senatorial candidates Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas takes place. Carl Sandburg, in his biography of Abraham Lincoln, describes the media’s reaction to the first debate:

Shade trees were few in the Ottawa public square and most of the twelve thousand listeners were in a broiling summer sun on August 21st when the first of the debates took place. For three hours they listened…The reporter for the Philadelphia Press noted of Lincoln as a debater: “Poor fellow! he was writhing in the powerful grasp of an intellectual giant. His speech amounted to nothing”….The New York Evening Post reporter said: “…He takes the people every time, and there is no getting away from his sturdy good sense, his unaffected sincerity, and the unceasing play of his good humor.”

August 21, 1928
The New York Times reports that there will be a demonstration of a moving image technology called “television.” Newspaper journalists are invited to attend and learn about this new broadcast medium.… Read more


Today in media history: The dial telephone was 1896 cutting-edge technology

Here are four events that happened on this date and a trivia question.

August 20, 1896
A patent is filed for one of the most important devices in the history of reporting: the dial telephone. The following clip from the 1940 journalism movie “His Girl Friday” reminds us how reporters used this cutting-edge technology.

August 20, 1920
WWJ (8MK), one of the first commercial radio stations, goes on the air. The station was originally operated by The Detroit News. Newspapers around the country began buying or starting radio stations in the 1920s.

August 20, 1926
A syndicated newspaper column lists radio programs from around the country. Here are a few examples:

4:30 pm — WFAA — Dallas — Agricultural Program
5:30 pm — KDKA — Pittsburgh — Dinner Concert
6:00 pm — WSOE — Milwaukee — Sports; News
6:15 pm — WMAK — Philadelphia — Instrumental Trio
7:00 pm — WLS — Chicago — Lullaby Time
7:50 pm — WNYC — New York — Know Your City
8:00 pm — WWJ — Detroit — News
10:00 pm — WIL — St.

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Today in media history: Soviet hard-liners stage coup against Gorbachev

Here are three events that happened on this date and a trivia question.

August 19, 1848
The New York Herald is the first newspaper on the U.S. East Coast to report on the discovery of gold in California.

August 19, 1991
Conservative Soviet hard-liners stage a coup against president Mikhail S. Gorbachev. On the ABC News program Nightline, Ted Koppel reports:

Almost exactly 24 hours ago the world was told that Mikhail Gorbachev had been forced to step down as president of the Soviet Union for “health reasons.” President Bush didn’t even engage in the normal diplomatic courtesy of pretending to believe that explanation. The U.S. government is proceeding along the assumption that there has been a coup in the Soviet Union…..Boris Yeltsin remains prominently and defiantly in Moscow, denouncing the new government and calling on Soviet citizens to engage in acts of civil disobedience.

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Today in media history: The 1969 Woodstock music festival

Here’s news about the Woodstock festival and a trivia question.

August 18, 1969
An estimated 400,000 music fans watch the last day of the Woodstock festival. Rolling Stone magazine correspondent Greil Marcus describes the event:

They came to hear the music, and they stayed to dig the scene and the people and countryside. Any time, no matter who was playing, one could see thousands moving in every direction and more camped on every hill and all through the woods. The magnificent sound system was clear and audible long past the point at which one could no longer see the bands.The outstanding thing was the unthinkable weight of the groups that played. Take Saturday night and Sunday morning. Here’s the line-up: Joe Cocker, Country Joe and the Fish, Ten Years After, the Band, Johnny Winter, Blood, Sweat and Tears, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Sha Na Na and Jimi Hendrix.

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