By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

A new-media lesson from an old newspaper

I can’t think of a better lesson for journalism students.

Earlier today I was attending an orientation for freshmen and transfer students when word came in on my BlackBerry, via the Salem News’ Twitter feed, that the Danvers Town Hall was on fire. (Media Nation’s world headquarters is located in Danvers.)

By 4:30 p.m., the News had posted a reasonably complete story with a Google map and an 11-photo slideshow.

Ten years ago, needless to say, the News would have been silent until the next day.

Discover more from Media Nation

Subscribe to get the latest posts to your email.


Glenn Beck has his moment


The missing mayor


  1. cavard

    Seems like we’ve already gone beyond that. Today we’re seeing Webzines, blogs, and Twitter reporting stories before they actually break. Amazing how fast information is getting out these days as compared to old days.

  2. O-FISH-L

    Dan, as I mentioned in private correspondence, “Scan New England” offers an email / text service for most breaking police and fire emergencies in the region. Gone are the days of reporters, photogs and “sparks” listening to a scanner with 30 or 40 PDs and FDs. I still think budding journalists should listen to police and fire bands, if for no other reason than to learn the nomenclature. But as for listening for the next story, it’s not necessary anymore.

  3. LFNeilson

    Come on, Dan. I can’t think of better timing for a weekly than a fire on Tuesday afternoon. All right, they can’t cover it in a nanosecond, but there’s nothing more frustrating for a weekly than a biggie on Thursday morning — unless it’s in your own office, after the paper is on the street. (btdt)

    Pardon me, I’m still living in the 20th Century.

  4. lkcape

    It is all in the technology available to deliver the story, Dan, and the willingness to use it. This has much more to do with the business of journalism than it does of reporting.

    I would hazard a guess that the great papers of the past responded as quickly as their technology allowed them.

  5. Newshound

    Technology? I don’t think so. Ambition, gumption, devotion, loyalty to readers – and a passion for journalism is what may have been qualities judged by the Philadelphia Press Association’s 1949 award to Philip Buxton.

    While the killer of 13 persons was shooting it out with police from his Camden, NJ apartment, Mr. Buxton interviewed the killer by telephone and had an Extra out on the street while the gun battle continued.

  6. Newshound

    Correction: The killer was too quick to surrender prior to the press run. Tear gas takes the credit for that. But, here is the interview that was published shortly thereafter – – –
    “What are they doing to you?”
    “They haven’t done anything to me yet, but I’m doing plenty to them.”
    “How many have you killed?”
    “I don’t know yet. I haven’t counted them. But it looks like a pretty good score.”
    “Why are you killing people?”
    “I can’t answer that yet. I’m too busy. I’ll have to talk to you later. A couple of friends are coming to get me.”

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén