JFK in the moment: how TV covered the breaking news
The Internet is a wonderful place where one can indulge to the heart's content.
It's also a time machine, a fact being driven home this week as the nation remembers the Kennedy assassination 50 years ago.
One angle getting traction is the way TV covered the events in real time--the moment the relatively new medium made itself known as a source for breaking news. Atlantic.com has video links to some of the footage from that day, stuff that will bring back raw memories if you (like me) are old enough to remember seeing it as it happened.
For all that's been written about the subject, it's something else to see the story break through the eyes of the men (and notably, very few women) who were working in the electronic media back then. Black and white. Grainy. Tense. Occasionally awkward. Constantly real.
I was just six, and for me the Kennedy assassination was something that disrupted the regular Friday routine. I knew what had happened was big, but had no concept of time. When would this be over, I wondered? Why isn't Shari Lewis and Lamb Chop on Saturday morning, the way they always were?
One of my most vivid memories from that weekend came from my Dad who, at some point, tried to draw me in to the enormity of what was happening. I apparently wasn't showing enough interest in what the big kids in the house were drawn to--remember, I was six--and he felt as though a good talk was in order. You need to realize how big of an event this is, he told me. You should be watching this with the rest of us, he said, because this is history in the making. He was right, of course, but I was just a child, and I went on doing what kids do when they're in first grade.
The Internet gives me, and others who might have missed it in real time, a chance to re-live what he was talking about.
(If you want to indulge even more, here's one of the best sites I've been able to find with acres of same day audio/video from the big three networks and even some local stations plus after-the-fact documentaries).