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Gaslight: January in Media History - The LAMP

Gaslight: January in Media History

By January 11, 2010 News No Comments

Matt DrudgeJanuary 17, 1998: A major milestone in online journalism was reached on this day, when blogger Matt Drudge reported on The Drudge Report that Newsweek magazine had killed a story about President Clinton having an affair with a young White House intern. Newsweek reporter Michael Isikoff had been investigating the story for almost a year, but at the last minute, the magazine decided not to bring it to press due to questions of credibility regarding the recorded telephone conversations between Monica Lewinsky and Linda Tripp. Drudge was tipped off by a source within Newsweek, and posted his item online around 11.30pm PST, before any other news outlets could go to print in the morning. The actual breaking of the news highlights many of the issues surrounding online journalism today–Drudge had no editor, and was willing to publish an item even though the source was questionable. However, perhaps it was the very lack of bureaucracy and politics within a mainstream media news outlet that allowed Drudge to publish; after all, he had little to lose if the story was false, whereas the future of Newsweek would have been in peril. Plus, Drudge was able to report the story in the middle of the night, and readers around the world could get the news instantly, long before the morning paper arrived or television news crews could convene for another broadcast. When the story turned out to be true, news outlets around the world were faced with the reality of a changing digital landscape for journalists and their readers.

Eisenhower in one of his televised news conferences

January 19, 1955: Another pivotal moment for Washington journalism occurred when President Dwight D. Eisenhower allowed the first televised presidential news conference from the White House. Before this time, the American people could only learn of the President’s remarks through reprints in newspapers by other journalists. Television allowed people to engage more closely with the President and the issues at hand, since they could now hear and him speaking for himself right in their living rooms. Although it wasn’t until John F. Kennedy’s administration that presidential news conferences were televised live, Eisenhower took an important first step towards increasing the level of transparency between the federal government and the public.

Image from parody of "The Raven" from "The Simpsons"

January 29, 1845: On this day, one of the best-known poems by one of America’s best-known poets was published when Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven” graced the pages of the New York Evening Mirror. Poe’s piece about a man lamenting the loss of his beloved Lenore has fascinated generations of readers with its macabre story juxtaposed against a singsong rhyme structure, and it has been the subject of more than a few parodies.