A look back at a very different time for broadcast journalism
Wednesday November 22 marked the 54th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. So the Shop Talk panelists went back down in history to take a look at that weekend of 1963 from a journalist’s perspective.
Panelist Rich Egger said one of the truly bizarre moments was when crime suspect Lee Harvey Oswald was taken to a press conference some 12 hours after the murder. He can’t imagine any police agency today giving reporters that kind of access to an accused presidential assassin – or anyone arrested for just about any crime.
Egger said the three previous presidential assassinations happened before radio and television existed. Americans in November 1963 watched and listened to history in real time, something they had never experienced before.
Panelist Will Buss said TV journalism was still fairly new at the time, and TV networks had only recently extended their evening news broadcasts from 15 minutes to 30 minutes. feet this weekend.
Buss praised Walter Cronkite for delaying news of the president’s death until he was sure he had official confirmation.
Panelist Jasmine Crighton agreed newsrooms didn’t seem prepared for an emergency and needed to figure out how to cover it on the fly. She recently attended a convention in Dallas that included a presentation by Bob Schieffer and Hugh Aynesworth, both of whom covered the assassination. Aynesworth said it was another time and the events of this weekend had to be seen that way – what might seem strange to us today was not then.
Crighton believes that most Americans today would have no problem with the genuine emotion displayed on air by Walter Cronkite upon hearing of Kennedy’s death. She said many broadcast reporters who covered 9/11 also reacted emotionally to the air as the events unfolded.
Jasmine Crighton is News Director for NEWS3 at Western Illinois University and Will Buss is Director of Student Publications at WIU.