David Shedden


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

P-Lincoln 1860

Today in Media History: In 1860, the press reported on presidential candidate Abraham Lincoln

In addition to newspaper and magazine reporters, photographer Mathew Brady also looked forward to Abraham Lincoln’s campaign trip to New York City on February 27, 1860.

On that date Lincoln delivered his Cooper Union address, the most important speech of his 1860 presidential campaign.

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Mathew Brady first photographed Abraham Lincoln on February 27, 1860, the day Lincoln addressed a large Republican audience in the modern lecture hall at Cooper Union in New York.

Over the following weeks, newspapers and magazines gave full accounts of the event, noting the high spirits of the crowd and the stirring rhetoric of the speaker.

Artists for Harper’s Weekly converted Brady’s photograph to a full-page woodcut portrait to illustrate their story of Lincoln’s triumph, and in October 1860, Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Weekly used the same image to illustrate a story about the election.”

— “Abraham Lincoln
National Portrait Gallery

Mathew Brady's photograph of Abraham Lincoln on the day of his speech at the Cooper Union, February 27, 1860. Manuscript Division, Library of Congress

Mathew Brady’s photograph of Abraham Lincoln on the day of his speech at the Cooper Union, February 27, 1860.

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Today in Media History: NPR began 45 years ago

45 years ago today, on February 26, 1970, the National Public Radio articles of incorporation were issued and NPR officially began.

However, it would be another year before the first NPR sound came out of a radio.

Here is how the Wisconsin newspaper, the Fond du Lac Commonwealth Reporter, described NPR in September 1970:

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An excerpt from NPR’s “Overview and History” page:

“NPR was incorporated on February 26, 1970, by 90 forward-thinking charter stations to provide national news programming. In April 1971, NPR hit the air with live coverage of the Senate hearings on the war in Vietnam.

Just a month later, we debuted our first weekday newsmagazine, All Things Considered.

In 1977, NPR assumed a new responsibility — to represent the interests of NPR member stations (who had grown from 90 to 190) — before Congress, the FCC and others.

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Today in Media History: In 1964, sportswriters reported that Cassius Clay was the new heavyweight boxing champion

“On the night of February 25, 1964, Cassius Clay entered the ring in Miami Beach wearing a short white robe, ‘The Lip’ stitched on the back. He was fast, sleek, and twenty-two. But, for the first time in his life, and the last, he was afraid. The ring was crowded with has-beens and would-bes, liege men and pugs. Clay ignored them. He began bouncing on the balls of his feet, shuffling joylessly at first, like a marathon dancer at ten to midnight, but then with more speed, more pleasure. After a few minutes, Sonny Liston, the heavyweight champion of the world, stepped through the ropes and onto the canvas, gingerly, like a man easing himself into a canoe. He wore a hooded robe. His eyes were unworried, and they were blank, the dead eyes of a man who’d never got a favor out of life and never given one out.

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Today in Media History: Floyd Gibbons broadcasts the first daily network radio news program in 1930

Floyd Gibbons, a former World War I correspondent for the Chicago Tribune, served as the announcer for the first daily network radio news program on February 24, 1930.

His program aired on the NBC Red Network. A few months later, Lowell Thomas broadcast the first CBS radio daily newscast.

In 1930 the Brooklyn Daily Eagle newspaper interviewed Gibbons about his career and the new technology of radio.

Here is his quote about working in radio news:

IMAGE-Eagle Gibbons  1930

This old newsreel footage shows Gibbons when he was a foreign correspondent during World War I:

“On his return to the United States he became a radio broadcaster. David Randall, the author of The Great Reporters (2005) has pointed out: ‘Being Gibbons he could not just broadcast as other folk.

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P-Iwo Jima

Today in Media History: The 70th anniversary of Joe Rosenthal’s Iwo Jima photo

Seventy years ago today a photographer with The Associated Press captured one of the most famous images in the history of journalism.

On February 23, 1945, Joe Rosenthal photographed Marines raising a flag during the Battle of Iwo Jima.

National Archives, Department of the Navy, AP Photographer: Joe Rosenthal, Feb. 23, 1945

National Archives, Department of the Navy, AP Photographer: Joe Rosenthal, Feb. 23, 1945

Rosenthal’s Pulitzer Prize-winning photo appeared on newspaper front pages across the country. Here is an example from the North Carolina newspaper, “The Robesonian.”

You will notice that war correspondent Ernie Pyle‘s column is also on page one.

Image-Robesonian 1945

“….We remember Iwo Jima for two good reasons.

One is that it was the costliest battle in Marine Corps history. Its toll of 6,821 Americans dead, 5,931 of them Marines, accounted for nearly one-third of all Marine Corps losses in all of World War II.

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Today in Media History: Space beat reporters describe John Glenn’s 1962 flight

On Feb. 20, 1962, the media reported on astronaut John Glenn‘s launch and orbital space flight in NASA’s Friendship 7 Mercury capsule.

Page one news from Frederic, Maryland’s “The News”:

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The Washington Post remembered the historic flight on its fiftieth anniversary:

“Of NASA’s 165 human spaceflights, the third was perhaps the most urgent.

Fifty years ago, a red-headed Marine colonel, John H. Glenn Jr., strapped into a tiny Mercury capsule known as Friendship 7 and hurtled into space. Glenn circled the Earth three times in just under five hours, America’s Space Age dreams looping along with him.

The Soviet Union had launched Yuri Gagarin into orbit 10 months earlier, taking a triumphant lead in the accelerating space race. In the intervening months, the United States managed to put two astronauts aloft — Alan Shepard and Virgil ‘Gus’ Grissom — but only on 15-minute suborbital jaunts.

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Today in Media History: David Karp and Marco Arment launched Tumblr in 2007

On February 19, 2007, the first version of the Tumblr microblogging service was founded by David Karp and Marco Arment.

They launched a more complete version in April 2007. Arment left Tumblr in 2010.

Here is an excerpt from David Karp’s February 19th Tumblr related post. (Surprisingly, it is on WordPress.)

Tumblr — something we’ve always wanted
Posted on February 19, 2007 | 20 Comments

More than 100 million blogs will be online in 2007. The count continues to double every 5.5 months. About half of the blogs created are ever maintained after being created. And fewer than 15% of blogs are updated at least once a week. (Technorati)

….Yeah, it’s still a blog. But it’s a new philosophy. It’s free of noise, requirements, and commitments.

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P-Computer Reporting

Today in Media History: In 1973, the Philadelphia Inquirer published one of the first computer-assisted reporting projects

On February 18, 1973, The Philadelphia Inquirer published the first in a series of computer-assisted reporting stories called, “Crime and Injustice.”

Investigative reporters Donald Barlett and James Steele used a mainframe computer to build a database that examined violent crime and the Philadelphia court system.

Phil Meyer, from the Knight Newspapers Washington bureau, designed the database coding scheme and analysis program for the seven-part newspaper series.

Here is how the AP described the Philadelphia Inquirer series after it was published:

Image-AP Feb. 1973

The Barlett & Steele reporting team would go on to win many awards over the years. Now there is an award in their name that honors the best in print and online investigative business journalism.

One of their first awards was back in the early 1970s for “Crime and Injustice.” In January 1974 UPI reported that the series had been awarded the Haywood Brown Award:

Image-UPI Jan. 1974 Read more

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P-Stone WWI

Today in Media History: Edward Stone was the first American mortally wounded during World War I

More than a year before the United States entered World War I, an American by the name of Edward Mandell Stone joined the French Foreign Legion to fight in the war.

According to news stories he was mortally wounded one hundred years ago today, on February 17, 1915. (Other records say he was wounded a couple of days earlier.)

In a military hospital on February 27th, he became the first American to die from fighting during World War I.

His former school’s newspaper, the Harvard Crimson, soon received a letter:

To the Editors of the Crimson:

The papers report that Edward Mandell Stone ’08, who last August enlisted in the Foreign Legion of France, has died. His classmates, his friends, even those who knew him only enough to say a merry hello to him as he passed them in the Yard a few short years ago will feel a deep regret for the loss of a man whom they liked and respected, and a deep sympathy for his bereaved family.

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Today in Media History: In 1946 the press introduced the 30-ton ENIAC computer

30 years before Steve Jobs introduced his first computer, there was a 30-ton computer named ENIAC.

In many ways ENIAC was one of the biggest computer stories of the 20th century.

According to the Computer Museum, “Late at night on February 13, 1946, the legend goes that the lights dimmed at the Moore School of Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania, when the 18,000 vacuum tube ENIAC was completely turned on.”

Here is an early newsreel story about ENIAC:

This clipping comes from a syndicated Newspaper Enterprise Association story:

Image-NEA ENIAC story

“There are two epochs in computer history: Before ENIAC and After ENIAC. The first practical, all-electronic computer was unveiled on February 13, 1946 at the Univ. of Pennsylvania’s Moore School of Electronics. While there are controversies over who invented what, there is universal agreement that the ENIAC was the watershed project that showed electronic computing was possible.

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