Today in media history: Did Thomas Edison make the first journalism movie in 1898?

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

August 12, 1898
The Spanish-American War came to an end on this date in 1898. Newspapers and magazines sent reporters, artists, and photographers to Cuba and various embarkation cities during the conflict. The war is often connected to the term “yellow journalism” and the newspapers of William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer.

During the war, in what may be one of the first examples of journalists in a movie, Thomas Edison’s company filmed correspondents in Key West. Here is how the Library of Congress describes the short film:

Shows a phase of the war excitement as it affects newspaper men at Key West, Florida. About a dozen war correspondents of the different New York papers are running up the street in a bunch to get to the cable office to get copy of cablegrams to be in turn transmitted to their different papers. They rush directly toward the audience, turn a corner in the immediate foreground and disappear down a side street. A good-natured struggle occurs here, to see who will make the turn first….Appearing: Karl C. Decker, correspondent for the New York Journal (in the carriage). 

One of the embarkation cities war correspondents visited was Tampa, Florida. Lieutenant Colonel Theodore Roosevelt and his Rough Riders also stayed there. In another Thomas Edison film the Rough Riders are seen leaving for the war. 

August 12, 1943
The New York Journal-American publishes a Pulitzer Prize-winning article. Their report tells the story of a two-year-old girl in the Lutheran Hospital of New York City.

August 12, 1981
The IBM PC, one of the first computers used by journalists, is introduced. During 1981 the Hayes Smartmodem is also sold for the first time. The new modem could transfer data at 300 bps (the average speed in 1981) and didn’t need an acoustic coupler. 

Media History Trivia Question 
Name the future prime minister of England who served as a correspondent during the Cuban war for Independence in 1895. He also visited Tampa, Florida, while reporting for London’s Daily Graphic newspaper. (Answer)

 

 

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