Posts Tagged ‘Newspapers’
“If it weren’t for Philo T. Farnsworth, inventor of television, we’d still be eating frozen radio dinners”*…
There’s no denying that newspapers are in jeopardy; emerging electronic media have eaten away at both their audiences and their advertising revenue. But lest we count them altogether out, we might remind ourselves that folks have been predicting their demise for decades.
From the March 1922 issue of Radio News magazine:
Seated comfortably in the club car of the Twenty-first Century Flyer — fast airplane service between London and New York — the president of the Ultra National Bank removes a small rubber disk from his vest pocket and places it over his ear. A moment hence, he will receive by radiophone the financial news of the world. Simultaneously, millions of other people all over the globe will receive the message. At designated hours, news of a general character will also be received.
The broadcasting of news by radiophone had long displaced the daily newspaper, and…
Don’t scoff! The day may be nearer than you suspect. In Hungary, a wire “telephone newspaper” has been successfully conducted for more than 25 years. For nearly a year, financial news direct from the Amsterdam Bourse has been broadcasted by radiophone to 200 banks and brokerage firms in Holland. And within a few months the German Government has installed near Berlin a wireless telephone station for the broadcasting of general news on a regular daily schedule throughout the entire country.
More on the premature reports of the death of the newspaper at “1922: Radio Will Kill the Newspaper Star.” (See also “The Newspaper of Tomorrow: 11 Predictions from Yesteryear.”
* Johnny Carson
As we strap on our jet-packs, we might recall that it was on this date two years earlier, in 1920, that Scientific American got a forecast powerfully right; in an issue cover-dated the following day, it made then-bold prediction that radio would be come an important medium for delivering music.
It has been well known for some years that by placing a form of telephone transmitter in a concert hall or at any point where music is being played the sound may be carried over telephone wires to an ordinary telephone receiver at a distant point, thus enabling those several miles away to listen to the music. Such systems have been in use in London between a number of the theaters and hotels for many years, but it is only recently that a method of transmitting music by radio has been found possible.
It has now been discovered that music can be transmitted by wireless in the same manner as speech or code signals and as a result of research work on radio telephony at the Bureau of Standards it has been proven that music sent by this means does not lose its quality. It is, therefore, obvious that music can be performed at any place, radiated into the air through an ordinary radio transmitting set and received at any other place, even though hundreds of miles away. The music received can be made as loud as desired by suitable operation of the receiving apparatus. The result is perhaps not so very different from that secured by means of the ordinary telephone apparatus above mentioned, but the system is far simpler and does not require the use of any intermediate circuit. The entire feasibility of centralized concerts has been demonstrated and in fact such concerts are now being sent out by a number of persons and institutions. Experimental concerts are at present being conducted every Friday evening from 8:30 to 11:00 by the Radio Laboratory of the Bureau of Standards. The wave length used is 500 meters. This music can be heard by any one in the territory near the District of Columbia having a simple amateur receiving outfit. The possibilities of such centralized radio concerts are great and extremely interesting. One simple means of producing music for radio transmission is to play a phonograph into the radio transmitter. An interesting improvement upon this method is being utilized in the experiments at the Bureau. The carbon microphone, which is the mouthpiece of an ordinary telephone, is mounted on the phonograph in place of the usual vibrating diaphragm. As a result the phonograph record produces direct variations of electric current in the telephone apparatus instead of producing sound; thus while the music is not audible at the place where the phonograph record is being played, it is distinctly heard at the different receiving stations.
Local lore has it that it all began when a gentleman named O’Rourke and a partner developed a business in the late 1940s of fishing for octopuses with O’Rourke serving as live bait, and his partner hauling him out of the water after an octopus was sufficiently wrapped around him.**
In any case, by the 60s octopus wrestling had become a lively “sport,” especially in the Seattle area. Annual “World Octopus Wrestling Championships” were held in Puget Sound; they attracted up to 5,000 spectators and were televised. Trophies were awarded to the individual divers and teams who caught the largest animals. Afterwards, the octopuses were either eaten, given to the local aquarium, or returned to the sea. For example, in April, 1963, 111 divers took part in the competition; they wrestled– caught by hand, then dragged to shore– a total of 25 giant Pacific octopuses (Enteroctopus dofleini) weighing up to 57 pounds.
The sport began to die down in the late 60s, and the Championships ceased. Octopus wrestling is now illegal in Washington State.
* Andy Kaufman
** This, according to reporter and humorist H. Allen Smith in an article for True magazine in 1964; Smith’s source was West Coast raconteur Idwal Jones, so readers are left to dial up their own credulity.
As we pull on our wet suits, we might recall that it was on this date in 1967– just as the Octopus Wrestling Championship was fading– that elsewhere in Seattle another freaky voice was born: on March 23, 1967, the first issue of Seattle’s alternative newspaper, The Helix, was published. Inspired by San Francisco’s Berkeley Barb and Oracle, and New York City’s East Village Other, Helix‘s prime instigators included Paul Dorpat, then a wayward University of Washington grad student, and Paul Sawyer, a Unitarian minister. This circle quickly grew to include later-to-be famous novelist Tom Robbins, Seattle Post-Intelligencer cartoonist Ray Collins, and Jon Gallant, co-founder of Seattle’s legendary underground radio station KRAB-FM. It also launched the media career of Walt Crowley, revered local writer, historian, and rabble-rouser, who joined the paper’s staff, first as an illustrator and later as an editor, in May, 1967. (Crowley and Dorpat later went on to be two of the three founders of HistoryLink, along with Crowley’s wife Marie McCaffrey.)
What if front pages were selected by newspapers’ readers instead of their editors? At NewsWhip, we’re always interested in the news stories people are choosing to share – and how those stories differ from the normal news stories editors put on the front pages of big newspapers. So we ran a little experiment.
On Wednesday morning, we gathered the front pages of leading newspapers in several countries. Then we used Spike to check the most shared stories from each one.
A little work at our end, and we used those most shared stories to make new “people powered” front pages for each newspaper – giving the most shared story the most prominence, the second most shared the second most prominence, etc.
We replaced headlines and pictures, though did not get into replacing story text and bylines. The results are pretty neat – maybe even thought provoking.
For each paper we have the original front page on the left, and the “people powered” one on the right. Scroll through and take a look at the contrast.
See a larger version of the comparison above, plus similar side-by-sides of The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Guardian, The New York Post, and many more at “Here’s what happens when the readers choose the front page story.”
* Richard Rowland, the head of Metro Pictures, on learning that Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, and D.W. Griffiths had formed United Artists (1919)
As we practice preference, we might spare a thought for Robert Ludlum; he dies on this date in 2001. Ludlum used the lessons he learned asa theatrical actor and producer to write 27 novels, all thrillers, that have sold, estimates suggest, between 300-500 million copies in 33 languages around the world. Seven of his works have been made into movies or mini-series (e.g., The Osterman Weekend and the Bourne Trilogy). Indeed, his franchise was so strong at his death that his estate has been able to continue the flow of novels, contracting other thriller writers to compose under the Robert LudlumTM banner.
* Charles Anderson Dana, American journalist, 1819-1897
As we read all about it, we might send ink-stained birthday greetings to Ben Hecht; he was born on this date in 1894. A novelist and Oscar-winning screenwriter (Underworld, Scarface, The Twentieth Century, Spellbound, Notorious, Monkey Business, Mutiny on the Bounty– over 70 in all), Hecht began his career as a newspaper reporter and columnist in Chicago– experience he put to good use when he co-wrote (with fellow reporter Charles MacArthur) the hit play The Front Page.
From our old friends at Criggo (“Newspapers are going away; that’s too bad”… see here, here, and here), evidence that, as von Clausewitz observed, “Although our intellect always longs for clarity and certainty, our nature often finds uncertainty fascinating…”
As we aspire to comprehend, we might send nosy brithday greetings to soldier, poet, dramatist and duelist Hercule-Savinien de Cyrano de Bergerac; he was born on this date in 1619. The inspiration for Rostand’s 1897 verse drama, Cyrano de Bergerac (and Steve Martin’s Roxanne), Cyrano was possessed of a prodigious proboscis, over which he is said to have fought more than 1,000 duels.
Surely as importantly, his writings, which mixed science and romance, influenced Jonathan Swift, Edgar Alan Poe, Voltaire– and Moliere, who “borrowed freely” from Cyrano’s 1654 comedy Le Pédant joué (The Pedant Tricked).
Via our old friends at Criggo…
As we reconcile ourselves to the homework load, we might recall that it was on this date in 1884 that workers laid the 3,300-pound marble capstone on the Washington Monument and topped it with a nine-inch pyramid of cast aluminum, completing construction of the 555-foot erection honoring the Father of our country. The cornerstone had been laid on Independence Day, 1848.
(Alert readers will note that one of the examples proffered is a report on what became the subject of “the worst poem ever,” “The Tay River Disaster.”)
As we wash the ink from our fingers, we might recall that it was on this date in 1942 that the Atomic Age began, when a team led by Enrico Fermi, working inside an enormous tent on a squash court under the stands of the University of Chicago’s Stagg Field, achieved the first controlled nuclear fission chain reaction… laying the foundation for the atomic bomb and later, nuclear power generation.
“…the Italian Navigator has just landed in the New World…”
- Coded telephone message confirming first self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction, December 2, 1942.
1946 reunion of the 1942 team
Back row, left to right: Norman Hilberry, Samuel Allison, Thomas Brill, Robert G. Nobles, Warren Nyer, and Marvin Wilkening.
Middle row: Harold Agnew, William Sturm, Harold Lichtenberger, Leona W. Marshall, and Leo Szilard.
Front row: Enrico Fermi, Walter H. Zinn, Albert Wattenberg, and Herbert L. Anderson