David Shedden

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David Shedden is a researcher and the library director at the Poynter Institute. Poynter Online daily feature: "Today in Media History"


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Today in Media History: In 1976 Steve Jobs started Apple and soon introduced the Apple-1 computer

On April 1, 1976, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne established the Apple computer company and soon introduced the Apple-1 computer. (The company was incorporated in January 1977.)

“His saga is the entrepreneurial creation myth writ large: Steve Jobs cofounded Apple in his parents’ garage in 1976, was ousted in 1985, returned to rescue it from near bankruptcy in 1997, and by the time he died, in October 2011, had built it into the world’s most valuable company. Along the way he helped to transform seven industries: personal computing, animated movies, music, phones, tablet computing, retail stores, and digital publishing….”

— “The Real Leadership Lessons of Steve Jobs
By Walter Isaacson, Harvard Business Review, April 2012

In this Bloomberg Businessweek video, Steve Wozniak remembers building the Apple-1 computer:

See Also:
Apple Computer Partnership Agreement.”
April 1, 1976. Read more

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P-1988 Pulitzers

Today in Media History: Who won the 1988 Pulitzer Prizes? (You may recognize some of these names)

The Charlotte Observer wrote the following after it was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service on March 31, 1988:

“The Charlotte Observer won the 1988 Pulitzer Prize for meritorious public service Thursday for revealing misuse of funds by Jim and Tammy Bakker`s PTL television ministry.

….Longtime Observer editorial cartoonist Doug Marlette, who now works for the Atlanta Constitution, also won a Pulitzer, for work he did at both newspapers.

Thursday, as the 3 p.m. announcement of Pulitzer winners approached, Observer staff members stopped typing at computer terminals and put down their telephones to await the news. They climbed onto desks and leaned over terminals in anticipation.

At 2:50 p.m., assistant managing editor Bob De Piante called New York`s Columbia University School of Journalism, which gives Pulitzer prizes in 14 categories each year, to find out if The Observer was among the winners.

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Today in Media History: Coverage of the 1981 assassination attempt against President Reagan

On March 30, 1981, the news media reported on the assassination attempt against President Ronald Reagan.

The gunman, John W. Hinckley, attacked Reagan as the president walked to his car after addressing a group at the Washington Hilton Hotel.

Page one from the California afternoon newspaper, the Santa Cuz Sentinel:

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Here is an excerpt from a Washington Post story by Lou Cannon:

“….He was leaving the Washington Hilton Hotel through a VIP side door onto T Street. His armored limousine stood waiting for him in a driveway about 12 feet away. Secret Service agents were all around him. It was 2:25 p.m. on a typically rainy spring day, and Reagan, dressed in a blue suit with a white handkerchief in his pocket, seemed happy to be president.

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Today in Media History: In 1947, the press reported on the Hutchins Commission report

On March 27, 1947, the press reported on the Hutchins Commission report about the media.

Robert M. Hutchins, the president of the University of Chicago, served as the chair of the 1940s Commission on the Freedom of the Press. Time magazine’s Henry Luce suggested the creation of the commission and provided $200,000 in grants.

They evaluated the print and broadcast media as well as motion pictures. Their final report, “A Free and Responsible Press,” concluded that freedom of the press was in danger.

The commission cautioned against ownership concentration, rising costs, and the media’s preoccupation with sensational news. They felt that the media needed to take more responsibility for its actions.

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The Internet Archive has posted a copy of the Hutchins Commission’s publication, “A Free And Responsible Press, the report of the Commission on Freedom of the Press.”

This how the report begins:

“The Commission set out to answer the question: Is the freedom of the press in danger?

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Today in Media History: Journalists used 1997 website to reconstruct story of Heaven’s Gate mass suicide

An early example of online journalism was the 1997 Heaven’s Gate mass suicide story.

“….For several days, it was the biggest news story in the world.

It began unfolding the afternoon of Wednesday, March 26, 1997, during a period when the Hale-Bopp comet could be seen in the night sky.

Inside a mansion in Rancho Santa Fe, 39 members of the Heaven’s Gate cult lay dead. Convinced that a spaceship was traveling behind the comet and that they would be transported to the vessel to begin a new life ‘beyond human,’ they had poisoned themselves. Twenty-one women and 18 men died by eating pudding and applesauce laced with phenobarbital and other drugs – the largest mass suicide on U.S. soil.”

— “Heaven’s Gate revisited
San Diego Union-Tribune, March 2007

Screenshot of Heaven's Gate website. Internet Archive image.

Screenshot of Heaven’s Gate website.

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Today in Media History: The press reports on the tragic 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire

“It was the deadliest workplace accident in New York City’s history. On March 25th, 1911, a deadly fire broke out in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York’s Greenwich Village. The blaze ripped through the congested loft as petrified workers — mostly young immigrant women — desperately tried to make their way downstairs. By the time the fire burned itself out, 146 people were dead. All but 17 of the dead were women and nearly half were teenagers….”

— “Triangle Fire
PBS American Experience, 2011

Page one news from the New York Tribune:

Image-NY Tribune 1911

See Also:
The New York Times on March 26, 1911.
Additional examples can be found on their
Times Topics page: “Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire.”

CBS News looked back at the fire in 2011:

A story excerpt from the Chicago Tribune:

“One hundred and forty-eight persons nine-tenths of them girls and young women are known to have been killed in a fire which burned out the ten story factory building at the northwest corner of Washington place and Green street, just off Washington square, this afternoon.

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Today in Media History: ABC’s ‘Nightline’ began 35 years ago

Although its start can be traced back to an earlier program about the Iran hostage crisis, ABC’s “Nightline” officially began 35 years ago today.

Frank Reynolds anchored the ABC News program, The Iran Crisis: America Held Hostage, which was launched on November 8, 1979, four days after the U.S. embassy in Iran was seized. When Reynolds left to cover the 1980 presidential campaign, his role was taken up by ABC’s chief diplomatic correspondent, Ted Koppel.

On March 24, 1980, the 20-minute, Monday-through-Thursday program became permanent and was renamed “Nightline”. The show started covering topics besides the hostage situation and expanded to a half-hour on January 5, 1981. On March 30th it also began airing on Fridays.

Here is part one of a special report “Nightline” produced for its tenth anniversary. Read more

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Today in Media History: Indiana newspapers describe devastating 1917 tornado

On this date almost a century ago a tornado hit a small town in southern Indiana.

People turned to newspapers for news about its destruction.

“On March 23, 1917, a massive tornado swept through New Albany, cutting a path of destruction three miles long by a half-mile wide. Historic records indicate it was on the scale of an F4, and one of the most devastating storms to ever come through Indiana. Forty-five people were killed, and 300 buildings destroyed. The tornado made national news in its day.”

— “Twister: Looking back at the 1917 tornado that decimated New Albany
News and Tribune, 2007

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Here is an excerpt from an Indianapolis News story:

“About 300 dwellings, factories and other buildings either destroyed or damaged — property loss estimated at $1,500,000 — path of the storm a scene of desolation which was wrought in three minutes — known dead number thirty-five, but more bodies are expected to be found — militiamen and policemen on guard — doctor needed.”

The Alexandria (Indiana) Times-Tribune:

“….The Deering baby, about 6 months old, was found floating in a small stream into which it had been borne by the wind.

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P-Patty Hearst

Today in Media History: 2 years after kidnapping, Patty Hearst convicted of armed robbery

The kidnapping of Patricia Hearst, the granddaughter of publisher William Randolph Hearst, was one of the biggest news stories of the 1970s.

“….Patricia Hearst became a media celebrity after being kidnapped by a group of revolutionaries calling themselves the Symbionese Liberation Army. The kidnap victim transformed into a seemingly willing accomplice; over the months of her kidnapping, she participated in crimes, claimed allegiance to the S.L.A., and defended her captors as valiant heroes.

….Her parents thought that she had been brainwashed; experts suggested that she was a victim of the Stockholm Syndrome, mistakenly identifying with her captors in an effort at self-preservation.

….In a sensational trial in March 1976, Patty Hearst, represented by well-known defense attorney F. Lee Bailey, was found guilty of armed bank robbery and sentenced to seven years in prison.

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P-C-SPAN

Today in Media History: C-SPAN started 36 years ago

The C-SPAN television network began on March 19, 1979 with a live cablecast from the U.S. House of Representatives.

Here is an excerpt from C-SPAN’s history page:

“….C-SPAN began with only four employees. Those four – Brian Lamb, Jana Dabrowski (Fay), Don Houle, and Brian Lockman – transmitted the television feed from the U.S. House of Representatives on March 19, 1979, the first day the House allowed television coverage.

This first televised congressional session began with a one-minute speech by then-Congressman Al Gore and reached nearly three million American homes. It marked the beginning for C-SPAN, but for founder Brian Lamb and the infant network’s member cable companies who then provided – and still provide – its funding, the House feed was only the beginning.

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