As It Happened: AP Wire Copy of the JFK Assassination

Fifty years ago, mobile devices, Twitter, and Instagram didn't exist, but the basic technologies of transmitting voice, text, and image electronically were well-established. Reporters in far-flung news bureaus could broadcast text through teletypesetter machines, and images via wirephoto machines, approaching real-time reporting of breaking events. When President John F. Kennedy was shot on November 22, 1963, Associated Press staffer James Altgens was photographing the motorcade, and became an eyewitness. His quick phone call to the AP's Dallas bureau became the first news bulletin about the shooting distributed across the AP's teletypesetter circuit. Hours of frantic reporting followed, supplying newspapers and broadcasters with information as events unfolded. If news is the first draft of history, then these pages of raw wire copy are pieces of the rough draft.

Read more
Hints: View this page full screen. Skip to the next and previous photo by typing j/k or ←/→.

Most Recent

  • Ognen Teofilovski / Reuters

    Photos of the Week: 6/18-6/24

    A glass slide 1,000 feet above the ground in Los Angeles, an emu is helped away from a California wildfire, a selfie in the 125 degrees Fahrenheit heat of Palm Springs, a Hello Kitty face grown on a melon in Japan, and much more.

  • Roger Steffens / Benrubi Gallery

    A Family Album on Acid

    Roger Steffens’ photographs of his wife, son, and daughter during the Electric Kool-Aid era

  • Sergio Perez / Reuters

    A Tripped Syrian Refugee Finds a Home in Spain

    Last September, photos of a Syrian refugee being tripped by a Hungarian camerawoman as he tried to flee border police went viral. His story caught the attention of a soccer training school near Madrid that helped him find work and a new home.

  • Ringo H.W. Chiu / AP

    Photos of Southern California's Wildfires

    A punishing heat wave across the American Southwest has spawned a number of early season wildfires in Southern California, including the Sherpa Fire, which has burned nearly 8,000 acres in less than a week.

Join the Discussion