News of Pearl Harbor attack carried mostly by radio

The Washington Post | Time

A front page from the Los Angeles Times on Dec. 8, 1941. (Newseum)

Although we've all seen the front pages screaming "WAR," the Post's Michael Ruane writes that radio was the dominant news medium, not newspapers. Fans at that Sunday's Redskins-Eagles game weren't told what happened, although the "public-address announcer summoned numerous VIPs and military officers to report to their headquarters throughout the contest." The radio broadcast of the New York Giants-Brooklyn Dodgers game was interrupted with the news, though. The AP writer at the Redskins game was told "to keep his story short, because: 'The Japanese have kicked off.' " The AP's flash dispatch begins: "President Roosevelt said in a statement today that the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii from the air." (Read the entire story and subsequent bulletins). A week later, Time magazine published a story about how the attack caught the U.S. Navy off guard. The New York Times story about the attack is online.

  • Steve Myers

    Steve Myers was the managing editor of until August 2012, when he became the deputy managing editor and senior staff writer for The Lens, a nonprofit investigative news site in New Orleans.


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