You’ve found the final mystery link in Searchlights and Sunglasses. Your reward for completing this scavenger hunt? The stories behind each link! Here they are, organized by the sections of the book:
Clicking on the dirigible brings up a Pathe newsreel showing the 1937 crash of The Hindenburg in Lakehurst, New Jersey. Before television, the only moving pictures of news came from newsreels shown in theaters. Herbert Morrison’s dramatic eyewitness report for Chicago radio station WLS is one of news history’s best-known first-person accounts.
The satellite leads to a 1974 Australian Broadcasting Corporation interview of futurist Sir Arthur C. Clarke, who predicts that by 2001 people will get the information they need for daily life from globally connected computers. (In 1945, Clarke proposed the geostationary satellite, a key element of global communications).
Behind the lumberjack you’ll find a 1937 film called “Trees to Tribunes,” tracing the journey of trees through the industrial process that produced important metropolitan newspapers like the Chicago Tribune. Emerging from bankruptcy, the Tribune Company in 2013 announced it would separate its publishing business from its more profitable broadcast business.
Clicking on the “Delicious” woodcut brings up the home page of Videolicious, a company that makes a mobile video-editing app, allowing users to easily create videos from their mobile phones, Videolicious investors include The Knight Foundation and the Washington Post.
The brain graphic leads to an infographic detailing the results of a 2009 Knight News Challenge experiment. MediaBugs hoped to fix media mistakes by helping people publically identify the errors. It didn’t get traction. Still, experiments that do not go as planned are not considered failures if insights are gained.
The roach graphic brings up The New York City Roach Map, a result of The Great Urban Hack NYC. Hackathons have become popular ways for content people, data scientists and programmers to brainstorm new applications. In this case, they figured out how to use restaurant inspection reports to create a clear map showing where roaches were massing.
The picture of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin leads to a propaganda film on the Cold War. The Challenge of Ideas, was created in 1961 by the United States Army Pictorial Center and the Defense Department. It was hosted by famed broadcast newsman Edward R. Murrow, who left CBS at the end of his career to lead the United States Information Agency. In 1954, Murrow demonstrated the power of television news by exposing notorious communist hunter Sen. Joseph McCarthy.
The piece of parchment with the word weird misspelled in Al Yankovic’s name leads to his popular 2014 music video, "Word Crimes". The song is a parody of Robin Thicke’s "Blurred Lines." It gives an overview of frequently committed grammar errors. The video was one of eight released in social and mainstream media over eight days to publicize "Mandatory Fun," his first chart-topping album on Billboard.
The news rider graphic has led you here, to the story of the hidden links, of how news technology changes with each American generation. The rider comes from the front page of the Daily Alta California, July 29, 1861. At the top of its columns of civil war news, the engraving explained to the paper’s readers how news travelled. It’s a snapshot in time, just as the Pony Express was giving way to the telegraph.
A final word:
The submarine on the home page of Searchlights and Sunglasses is a sketch of the USS Alligator. Thirty feet long and no more than eight feet in diameter, it was the first U.S. Navy sub, on active duty during the Civil War. The sub was not done on time or on budget, didn’t work well and was lost at sea on its way to Charleston, South Carolina, where Union forces hoped it would help retake the city.