20 Things You Didn't Know About the History of Media

20 Things You Didn't Know About the History of Media1. The first continuously published American newspaper was the Boston News-Letter, first published April 24, 1704. It reported such groundbreaking stories as the death of the famed pirate Blackbeard in a sensational on-deck fight. In 1761, the paper advertised a "Scheme for a Lottery" to sell 6,000 tickets at $2 each to raise funds for a new highway.

2. Minding your p's and q's was serious business when typesetters placed letters on a printing press - backward.

3. Bulova Watch Company paid for a 20-second spot on WNET (now WNBC), making it the first ad on television, on July 1, 1941. A watch sat on a map of the U.S. and a voiceover proclaimed, "America runs on Bulova time."

4. In 1876, Melville E. Stone wanted to create a penny newspaper to compete with nickel papers, but there weren't enough pennies in circulation. His strategy: 1) get shopkeepers to sell their products a penny under a dollar (as in $1.99), and 2) bring barrels of new pennies to Chicago himself. Not only was the Chicago Daily News one of the most successful papers in America, but pricing just under the dollar became commonplace.

5. The longest-running ad campaign began on Aug. 9, 1944, warning, "Only you can prevent forest fires."

6. The word "broadcasting" is derived from agriculture and refers to the distribution of seeds on a field.

7. Speaking of fields, a football field is approximately the length of an AM wave.

8. After abandoning the violin in 1918 to construct an electric motor and build his family's first washing machine, 12-year-old (or 13 or 14, depending on your source) Philo Farnsworth conceived of a then almost science-fiction concept: electronic television. Years later, he became the first person to transmit a television picture this way, and although he patented his image-dissecting tube, he ultimately lost credit to RCA. After a life of debt and obscurity, Farnsworth died in 1971.

9. The word "television" is derived from the Greek "tele," meaning "far off," and the Latin "visio," meaning "to see."

10.KDKA was the first radio station, broadcast from Dr. Frank Conrad's Wilkinsburg, Penn., garage in 1920.

11. Perhaps the most bizarre of all media tributes belongs to Dan Rather, not for his 35 years with CBS News, but for a mugging during which his assailant kept asking, "What's the frequency, Kenneth?" - the name of a hit for REM in 1994. Rather accompanied REM on the song at a 1995 Madison Square Garden sound check to capture the moment on film. The frequency remains unknown.

12. The grandfather of all continuously published newsstand magazines, Harper's, was launched in 1850. Its first printing of 7,500 copies sold out quickly, and within six months the print run was 50,000.

13. In 1979 American Media outgrew its old printing presses and decided to devote them to a new tabloid. Thus The Weekly World News was born. Unlike its newly colorful sibling, The National Enquirer, The Weekly World News published in black and white, as its hand-me-down presses dictated.

14. Say it ain't so! The last issue of The Weekly World News ran on Aug. 27, 2007, with a picture of its beloved Bat Boy on the cover, lying in an open coffin.

15. When the Westminster Gazette began publication in London in 1902 as the first "tabloid," Burroughs Wellcome & Co., a medical company that had coined the term for a tablet composed of several medicines, sued the paper for stealing the name. It lost.

16. You are what you eat: Kentucky Fried Chicken may be the winner of the Most Poorly Translated Advertising Slogan award. In 2002 its "Finger Lickin' Good" campaign told customers in China the food would make them want to "Eat Their Fingers Off."

17. Early editions of The Great Soviet Encyclopedia defined advertising as "hullabaloo, a means of swindling the people and foisting upon them goods frequently useless or of dubious quality."
The Russian word for advertising is google.

18. No it isn't. We made that up. The Russian word for advertising is reklama.

19. For a century, journalists have ended articles with -30-. No one alive knows why.

20. In July 2007, an article in The New York Times, apparently edited by someone oblivious to tradition, went to press with the last sentence referring to a trial beginning Feb. 30.

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