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Three Dead Americans: Life’s famous World War II photo

Americans waited nearly two years before the news media printed a combat photograph that showed a dead U.S. serviceman. The reasons for that wait were that such producing such photos are too shocking for the friends and families of the deceased and that the public’s morale and support for the war might be diminished. The […]

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Bay Psalm Book

Bay Psalm Book: the little book that keeps getting more valuable

The book represents in a small way a declaration of religious independence from the Church of England that could be exercised by early residents of Massachusetts.

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Cronkite-JFK

JFK assassination: TV news grows up in a hurry

To those who lived through it (including me), nothing is comparable to those four days in 1963 beginning on Nov. 22 when we heard the news that President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated in Dallas. Televisions all over America went on and stayed on through Monday night. We had never seen anything like it […]

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John F. Kennedy on the importance of open government (audio)

In April 1961, a few months after taking office as president of the United States, John F. Kennedy spoke to the American Newspaper Publishers Association about the importance of maintaining an open government. In the speech he said, “The very word ‘secrecy’ is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a […]

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Following ‘th’ iliction returns’

More than 100 years ago, newspaper humorist Finley Peter Dunne, speaking through his wise-beyond-years character Mr. Dooley, ended a soliloquy about the Supreme Court by saying: “That is, no matther whether th’ constitution follows th’ flag or not, th’ supreme coort follows th’ iliction returns.”

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George Smalley and the Battle of Antietam

One of the most dramatic stories of a correspondent covering a battle in the Civil War is that of George Smalley of the New York Tribune and his adventure in getting his description of the battle of Antietam back to New York. Smalley’s first accounts of the 1862 battle were read by President Abraham Lincoln […]

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Battlefield coverage: Fredericksburg! Fredericksburg!

Rable notes how difficult it was to cover such an encounter between armies and how hard it was to get information from the field to the publication for which the reporter worked. One other difficulty that reporters had: figuring out who won. It was not always apparent.

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History of the telegraph

Communication and journalism were changed by the increase in speed in the 19th century — particularly the invention of the telegraph. Few scientific developments have changed life for everyone so radically.

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America’s first newspaper

It was first published by John Campbell in 1704. William David Sloan, a professor of journalism at the University of Alabama and one of America’s distinguished journalism historians, has put together an extensive history of this newspaper for the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.

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Ray Stannard Baker, Woodrow Wilson’s friend

The current PBS American Experience program is a two-part biography of Woodrow Wilson, one of America’s most important presidents. Mentioned in the series is journalist Ray Stannard Baker, a progressive journalist who promoted Wilson’s candidacy for the presidency and who became his good friend.

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The unforgiveable blackness of Jack Johnson

PBS will broadcast on Jan. 17-18, 2005, a two-part series on Jack Johnson, the heavyweight boxing champion, whose achievements and life shocked the white-dominated society of early 20 th century America. The film is titled “Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson.” Johnson is the first black man since the era of Reconstruction […]

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Photographs from the New York Public Library

This gallery constitutes one of the largest collections of photographs anywhere — comparable to that of the Library of Congress. Most of the photos were taken before 1923, putting them in the public domain but decreasing their value to news organizations.

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Cearing his Deep Throat

Word comes today that the secret to one of the great politico-journalistic mysteries has been revealed: the identity of Deep Throat. It was Mark Felt, assistant director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation during the Nixon administration. This is an important revelation, and not just to those of us who have followed the Watergate story […]

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New images of the Scopes trial

The trial of high school teacher John Scopes in Dayton, Tenn., 80 years ago this month remains one of the 20th century’s iconic events. It drew vast media attention and pitted cultural forces against one another that are still at war today. This week, to coincide with the 80th anniversary of the Scopes trial, the […]

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Banjamin Franklin: Apologia for printers

This complete apologia for printers by Benjamin Franklin, nearly 300 years old, is still worth our consideration.

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Ben Franklin, printer

Because of several recent excellent biographies and a PBS series, America is being re-educated about the most remarkable of all the Founding Fathers, Benjamin Franklin. The man was many things during his long life: inventor, scientist, civic innovator, diplomat. What he wanted to be known as, however, was “printer.” His Apology for Printers, written in […]

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Headlines and titles: the ‘invention’ conceit

In our modern Scots-invented world of bloviation, headlines and titles can’t stand the heat of a literalist’s kitchen. Note: This is a post that appeared on a previous blog in May, 2008. Being a literalist when it comes to words and their usage (though not without a sense of humor, I hope), I tend to […]

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The Indiana primary – 40 years ago

The upcoming Indiana primary is the most important primary election in the state in 40 years. The last time it happened, I was there, and I shook hands with Robert Kennedy. The talking heads of the TV babblerati certified it to be true — this is the first time in 40 years the Democratic primary […]

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