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.

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