[extropy-chat] The regrettable state of journalism

John K Clark jonkc at att.net
Mon Sep 18 20:49:57 UTC 2006

So, what was the most important news story of 1948? Undoubtedly every
journalist on the planet at the time would say it was the Berlin airlift,
embarrassedly even today most would agree, but they are wrong, dead wrong.
Without a doubt by far the most important news event of that year was
reported on July 1, 5 days after it was announced. It was reported on page
46 of the New York Times in its "News of Radio" column. The paper didn't
even think it was the most interesting thing about radio that day because
the small headline on page 46 was "Two New Shows on CBS Will Replace 'Radio
Theater' During the Summer."

When they eventually got around to it the article said:

"A device called a transistor, which has several applications in radio where
a vacuum tube ordinarily is employed, was demonstrated for the first time
yesterday at Bell Telephone Laboratories....In the shape of a small metal
cylinder about a half-inch long, the transistor contains no vacuum, grid,
plate or glass envelope to keep the air away. Its action is instantaneous,
there being no warm-up delay since no heat is developed as in a vacuum

"The working parts of the device consist solely of two fine wires that run
down to a pinhead of solid semi-conductive material soldered to a metal
base. The substance on the metal base amplified the current carried to it by
one wire and the other wire carries away the amplified current."

Then they started talking about the new radio shows on CBS. And the Times
did one hell of a lot better than most newspapers; they didn't mention it at

The Berlin airlift is an interesting footnote, but great poets will write
epic poems about the invention of the transistor, poems that will rival

I was reminded of all this when just today I read the following:


   John K Clark    jonkc at att.net


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