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JFK Assassination, 50 Years Later: TV News Would Never Be The Same

By John Ostapkovich

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The shots that killed President Kennedy 50 years ago Friday changed the nation in many profound ways. One was that television became the go-to place for news.

Those of us of an age remember where we were the moment the news broke, bewildered children, stunned or weeping elders, clustered around our black and white windows to calamity.

“We just have a report from our correspondent Dan Rather in Dallas that he has confirmed that President Kennedy is dead,” Walter Cronkite announced.

Despite that networks had expanded to half-hour nightly news shows only months before, they had in a way practiced for this with political convention and civil rights long-form coverage, says Temple Communication Professor and former TV news director Paul Gluck.

“They had come ready and the technology had advanced to the point where they di have the ability to switch from place to place to capture the story as it unfolded,” Gluck said.

And with 50 million households having TVs, it was a tipping point where people would return time and again in crisis.

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