The Civil War’s Greatest Scoop

In September 1862 the New York Tribune ran a masterly account of the Battle of Antietam. Here were no vague claims of “Great and Glorious Victory” or “Great Slaughter of the Rebels.” Instead, the paper offered six columns of accurate, forceful prose—and got it to the readers less than thirty-six hours after the fight.

New York throbbed with the usual breakfast-hour bustle on September 19, 1862, apparently undisturbed by the recent Confederate invasion of Northern soil. But when a bunch of newsboys burst from Park Row’s Tribune building, barking “Extra!,” the response revealed the tension on the streets. Weary of newspaper rumors about a great battle in Maryland, New Yorkers crowded about the newsboys, hoping for some real information. They got it. Read more »

100 Years Of The ‘Journal’

In June 1984 I got an odd call from an editor at The Wall Street Journal. I had submitted an article that marked the one hundredth anniversary of the first publication of Charles Dow’s stock-market average. How do you know, the editor asked, that July 3, 1984, is the right date? What is your source? Read more »

Funny, Like Us

In Clare Briggs’s cartoons nobody got chased by twenty cops, nobody broke a plank over the boss’s head, nobody’s eyes popped out on springs. People just acted the way people do, and as a result, the drawings still make us laugh.

Fortunately for young, unemployed Clare Briggs, the new technology of halftone photography had not yet reached Missouri. In 1896 the St. Louis Globe-Democrat was still illustrating the news with pen-and-ink drawings and needed another sketch artist. Briggs, a dropout from the University of Nebraska, with only one printed sample in his portfolio, applied for the job and, much to his surprise, got it. Read more »

The Life And Death Of A Great Newspaper

Horace Greeley founded the “Trib”— and the union that eventually helped kill it. But in 125 years it knew many a shining hour.

It was ten on Saturday evening, April 23, 1966, when M. C. (Inky) Blackman, a short, gray-haired rewrite man, put a ticktacktoe mark at the bottom of a news story, stood up, grunted good night, and without further ceremony left the fifth floor of the building at 230 West Forty-first Street, New York City. Although he didn’t know it at the time, the endmark on Blackman’s piece also wrote finis to a great newspaper that had once been America’s greatest newspaper.