1981 TV Report about Online Newspapers

I love this 1981 news segment about how some people were dialing in to CompuServe to read newspapers on their home computers. According to the report, it took two hours to download the paper at a cost of $5 per hour, and had everything the print edition had, with the (major) exception of pictures, ads and the comics.

They show a print ad about the new service, with the headline “Now, a world of information at your fingertips. Now.” The ad shows a computer with the full front page displayed on the monitor, presumably as a metaphor, and the report notes that “the electronic newspaper isn’t as spiffy-looking as the ads imply.”

Mr. Halloran, the home user interviewed in this piece, notes that he can go back in and copy articles to paper and save them, which he thinks is the “the future of the type of interrogation an individual will give to the newspapers.” An awkward way to put it, but he was talking about the power of search, and he was right.

This pieces is wonderfully nostalgic, for those of us of a certain age, showing the old home computer with the plain ASCII screen display, the acoustic coupler with the telephone handset jammed into it, and most importantly, the sense of excitement of the early adopters.

Journalism: Looking Back, Looking Ahead

This is a career information film from 1940 makes journalism sound like a great career. Especially if you’re a man. Here’s the advice for girls considering this career choice:

“Women find it difficult to compete with men in general reporting jobs, so girls who want to be successful in journalism should prepare for work in the special women’s departments. Home decoration, child care, gardening and household hints are found in the homemaking section, a department handled by women. Also included are cookery, meal planning suggestions, menus, recipes and attractive ways of arranging the table.”

No, thanks! How confusing this must have been to high school girls in 1940, the same year Rosalind Russell played the fearless star report Hildegard Johnson in His Girl Friday!

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The Massie Affair

coverHonor Killing : How the Infamous “Massie Affair” Transformed Hawai’i — By David E. Stannard

In 1931, something happens to Thalia Massie, the young wife of a Naval officer stationed in Hawaii, but it almost certainly wasn’t what she said: a kidnapping and forced rape by a group of young Hawaiian men. At the trial, the defendants (of Hawaiian, Japanese and Chinese heritage) are acquitted, based on a lack of any sort of evidence other than falsely planted tire tracks.
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The Journalist and the Murderer

Book CoverThe Journalist and the Murderer — By Janet Malcolm

Malcolm explores the uneasy, seductive and ethically complex relationship between journalist and subject, interviewer and interviewee, seen through the example of the lawsuit between convicted murderer Jeffrey MacDonald, and author Joe McGinniss, author of Fatal Vision. Malcolm is painfully aware that while examining the relationship between journalist and subject, she also participates in these relationships with the people she interviews, including MacDonald.

Janet Malcolm’s examination of this troubling topic is especially interesting in light of her own experience in this area. She was sued by Jeffrey Masson over misquotations in a New Yorker article and her book In the Freud Archives. For more about this controversial book and its author, see this Salon article by Craig Seligman.