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JFK Assassination Media Coverage

The 47th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy passed mostly unnoticed by the national media on Monday. But I suppose this shouldn't be surprising, given that the even-decade anniversaries for distant events tend to be the years that get the full work-up, with snazzy motion graphics packages, catchy titles ("[INSERT EVENT HERE]: A Half-Century Later"), and so on.

And while books about the JFK assassination (and the odd conspiracy theory or two-thousand) were a publishing industry unto themselves for the first 40 years or so after that violent day in Dallas, most only give cursory treatment to history of the media coverage. A notable exception is When The News Went Live: Dallas 1963 by Bob Huffaker, Bill Mercer, George Phenix and Wes Wise (published in 2004 by Taylor Trade).

The four men all worked for Dallas CBS affiliate KRLD, and each was nearby or on hand for critical episodes in the city on November 22, 1963. In addition to stories of their personal experiences, they consider the network TV coverage of the assassination, including Walter Cronkite's famous, emotional announcement of Kennedy's death.

Among the gems: the little-known fact that first word of shots being fired at the motorcade were announced by Cronkite on CBS TV with only a "CBS NEWS BULLETIN" slide and no image of Cronkite. Cronkite is only heard and not seen--not out of propriety for the wounded Commander-in-Chief, but because in those days, it took awhile for the newsroom TV camera to warm up and Cronkite and CBS rightfully didn't want to wait.

(Posted by Feliks Banel)

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Western States Museum of Broadcasting 2021