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

  • NASA / Reuters

    Photos of the Week: 8/22-8/28

    Hikers on a moonlit night in Mexico, a massive ball pit in Washington, D.C., Usain Bolt taken down by a Segway in China, a squirrel monkey riding a capybara in Japan, and much more.

  • Abd Doumany / AFP / Getty

    Syria’s Children

    Four and a half years of violent conflict have destroyed entire regions of Syria. Caught in the middle of all this horror are the children of Syria, relying on parents who have lost control of their own lives and are now being forced to make difficult choices in desperate circumstances.

  • Jeff Vinnick / Reuters

    20 Years Ago This Week: A Look Back at 1995

    A look back at news images from the last week in August, 1995, two decades ago.

  • Carlos Barria / Reuters

    New Orleans, 10 Years After Katrina

    A decade ago, Hurricane Katrina triggered floods that inundated New Orleans and killed more than 1,800 people as storm waters overwhelmed levees and broke through floodwalls on August 29, 2005.

Join the Discussion