November 22, 1963

Most of us who were around when President Kennedy got shot can easily answer the question: “Where were you?” The events of that time are indelibly etched in our minds.

I was in high school then (yes, I’m giving away my age) and I still remember our principal’s announcement over the PA system: “President Kennedy has been shot. There are no other details. Please leave the building in an orderly fashion and get home safely.” The news after that was very sketchy. Remember, there was no cable TV, no Internet, no E-mail, no cell phones, etc. The one eye witness video of the Kennedy assassination was the famous Zapruder film, a short clip by a private citizen.

When I got home, we were riveted to our black-and-white TV as events slowly unfolded. I remember watching live as Jack Ruby shot and killed suspected assassin Lee Harvey Oswald. I remember the funeral procession with Jackie Kennedy and her two young children. I remember how frightened we were because there was some discussion that this was a hostile act during the Cold War.


November 22, 2013

Now, we’re fifty years later — and we know that coverage of the Kennedy assassination would be MUCH different. Consider this hypothetical scenario. November 22, 2013, as President Kennedy’s motorcade zips through Dallas, shots ring out:

  • People lining the streets film and record the motorcade with the cameras on their smartphones.
  • Video clips are taken by private citizens from every possible angle.
  • These video clips are Tweeted, texted, and E-mailed.
  • The first YouTube video appears less than 60 seconds after the shots are fired.
  • Within one hour, the video clips go viral and are seen by more than one billion people around the world.
  • Some people watching the motorcade discover that they have taken photos of Lee Harvey Oswald entering the building where shots were fired; others have taken video clips of the window where the shots were fired — in real time.
  • Equipped with many video clips, online and through cable and broadcast TV, the talking heads have a lot of virtually real-time footage to show viewers.
  • Conspiracy theorists are posting online within minutes.
  • Wikipedia updates President Kennedy’s page every time new information is released.
  • The new media relentlessly pursue the story and cast doubt on the single shooter theory.
  • The NFL cancels all Sunday football games out of respect for President Kennedy (something it did not do in 1963).
  • People Tweet, text, etc. to their friends and family to try to make sense of these events — and to comfort one another.

November 22, 2013 photo by Michael Stravato for the New York Times


12 Replies to “November 22, 1963: A November 22, 2013 Perspective”

  1. It is amazing to see how drastically times have changed. I’m not one to talk about how it was back in 1963, but looking at today and seeing how fast news can spread through tweets, posts and updates still stuns me. Take for example the Boston Marathon Bombing. I didn’t find out about the news through the newspaper or even television! I saw it trending on twitter and then switched on the TV to CNN. In today’s world, the news finds us rather than back then when people had to gather around the television and wait for new details to be announced or seek out a newspaper to read on the latest updates. There is no such thing as waiting in today’s world. We are constantly flooded with current updates. If JFK were assassinated today, news and video would go viral and not even a whole minute would have passed by.

  2. It is truly incredible how much things have changed in 50 years. It is both a blessing and a curse that we have so much technology and it is so easy to get information out into the media so quickly. It turns into misinformation and basically mass confusion, but also, there is so much more information, considering that everyone today has the ability to share what they saw. It would be a much different country reacting to the same event 50 years ago than how it would be today.

  3. Fifty years really isn’t that long, however, in such a short amount of time so much has changed. This post couldn’t be any more accurate in depicting just how fast news, good or bad, travels nowadays. I agree with Nathalie’s statement that now news finds us, rather than people having to go out and actively search for news updates. We are bombarded with information, from every perspective, in a matter of seconds.

  4. Its crazy how so much has changed in the way that news travels. The “2013 version of the Kennedy assassination” rate of news travel can basically be associated with how news traveled for 9/11 2001. It was all over the radio people were taking hundreds of videos and news traveling extraordinary fast.

  5. Besides technology and social media the war on terror seems as if thing’s have gotten a little out of hand in present day America. The JFK assassination was beyond a tragedy, I heard some where that LBJ was behind it. Nonetheless JFK was the last great president. Clearly the next president and the future ones were going to follow the script! I’m done ranting good day

  6. Its amazing that this tragic event in American history happened 50 years ago. I see the point that you are making with the new advances in technology, and I think that these advances have their advantages and disadvantages. Hypothetically speaking, lets say that someone had their smart phone out and was able to catch a glimpse on their phone of the shooter. This evidence (although Oswald was eventually murdered) would be pretty much all a court would need to have in order to send the accused away for life. That would be the advantage.
    The disadvantage would be more of a moral dilemma. When you mentioned that these videos would be on youtube, I – unfortunately – agree that that would happen. In this case, the disadvantages would be the lack of privacy and respect. The world would know about the assassination of the president before his own family would know. I think that it was beneficial that the technology we have today was not around when Kennedy was shot. I am coming from a more moral and ethical standpoint rather than a judicial one.

  7. Fifty years is not a long time in terms of history, but it is when you talk about technology fifty years ago. As said in the article if we were watching the Kennedy assassination with the amount of technology available today we would be able to watch it over and over again instantly on different sites online. We would also be able to watch it from different perspectives. It also would have been easier to convict Lee Harvey Oswald.

  8. It has changed so much. If this happened today, FBI would definitely find out who did this just because everyone would hold their phones to record around, and FBI definitely could find out some trails by go overing all those video clips. But it has a bad side too. In China, there is a term “renrou”. It means people would dig you out about who you are, where you live, what your real name is and etc. Some people, such as a women who abused a cat to death, were “Renroued”. Her family address, her company address, her phone, ID number and everything were posted online. And people actually started to threaten her life by calling her, pouring paint on the gate and so on. While I think she should be punished from abusing animals, this is not the right way to do. Technology has made this world so beautiful, but meanwhile, so scaring. You really need to be careful about what you do and what you say just in case someone is recording you and will post it online.

  9. This post is very true. Almost every news I get is from Twitter or someone telling me about it after they themselves found out from a social media outlet. If we have progressed this much, I wonder how much more we can progress in the future and how much faster news will reach us. We have come a long way. Technological innovation and social media is also kind of frightening because it is as though everyone is watching you and everyone knows exactly what you’re doing and when you’re doing it.

  10. This was quite an eye opener. It made me think about the way in which I acquire most news. Initially I feel like I see a Facebook status, then google it, then text friends and family to confirm and discuss events. The use of video and photos in todays generation also drastically shapes how events are reported, images and video are splashed across facebook, twitter, instagram etc… as soon as an important event takes place. They are circulated so quickly. So much of news reports involve images taken by bystanders rather then professional footage.

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