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Vo. 1 20 February 2012 Difference between the assassinations of Abraham Lincoln and William Mckinley I decided to research about how historical tragedies were written in newspapers back in 1860 and 1900. For comparison of these two time periods, I decided to look for articles about the assassination of the U.S. presidents. I have found some articles about Abraham Lincoln’s assassination and William McKinley’s assassination. As I read through the articles on the same kind of event from different time period, I have noticed a few significant differences: the time between the event and the news was released, the amount of the articles on the event published within the year, the emphasis the writers put into the story, and the content. The first difference I noticed is the released date of the presidents’ assassination. Abraham Lincoln’s assassination took place on April 14th, 1865. However, the first article about this incident was released six days after the assassination occurred by White Cloud Kansas chief. (The articles mentioned are the searching result for searching two words “lincoln” and “assassination” on the Library of Congress.) Comparing to the first article on William McKinley’s assassination released was on the day the tragedy happened. I wonder what the journalists in the 1865 were doing within the six days and why they could not release this news to the public earlier.

Another significant difference I have found from going through articles on U.S. presidents’ assassination on the Library of Congress was the difference in the number of articles about the certain incident. In 1865, when the assassination of Abraham Lincoln occurred, news articles on this topic was written in 167 different articles. In contrast, in 1901 when the assassination of William McKinley occurred, there were 679 articles on the same issue was released. It is surprising how William McKinley’s assassination was more highlighted than Abraham Lincoln’s assassination concerning how Abraham Lincoln is way more well known than William McKinley. Abraham Lincoln is one of the most important/famous person in American history so it is surprising how there were very few articles about this big issue. However, there were only 3,000 newspapers in 1860, but there were around 13,000 in 1900.

The image is the first article released about Abraham Lincoln’s assassination written on White Cloud Kansas chief. on April 20th 1865. We notice on the title part, Abraham Lincoln’s name was not even mentioned on it; It just simply say “Horrible Tragedy”. The font of the article does not differ much from the font on the text, and the victim’s name is not written big enough to catch people’s immediate attention. For those quick and rough readers might not even realize the major news. On top of that, this big-of-a-deal news was only written in only two columns. Comparing this to the first article released about William McKinley’s assassination on The Daily Journal on September 6th 1901:

Every news articles has a title topic that’s designed for catching audiences’ attention, however, it seems like that the articles about Abraham Lincoln’s assassination could have had more emphasis on it. (See the image below) The title of the major news was posted as the headline right below the name of the newspaper on the first page with a vivid and large font loudly saying “President McKinley Assassinated in Buffalo”. Even though the article itself is short, the article is noticeable and eye catching. Also there is a different article on the next page that’s written about the details about the incident.

As I was going through the articles about the assassination of those two presidents, I noticed that in the news articles from 1860s, there were barely any pictures posted. I was going through about sixty articles articles about the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and there were no pictures or visual images at all that was posted along the story. Then, I was going through the articles on William McKinley’s assassination and I have found thirty out of sixty having some sort of visual images of victim, William McKinley and fortyfive out of sixty had some sort of visual images such as the drawing of the white house. After I have discovered this, I kept going through the articles on Abraham Lincoln’s assassination and I found zero visual images on the article that was written in 1865 (look at the image below). From further researches, I found out that the reason there were not many visual images on newspapers in 1860 was because printing presses could only publish from engravings until 1880.

From this fact, we can see how the newspapers from around 1850 were mainly focusing on delivering the news and nothing else. Also it doesn’t seem like the journalists would emphasize on articles that they think/ actually are more important than other news. Looking at the news from the 1900s, I noticed the that the journalists are focusing on both delivering the news and grabbing audiences’ attention. Most of the articles were eye-catching and entertaining. For example, there was an article about William McKinley’s assassination that only had a large font topic “PRESIDENT McKINLEY VICTIM OF ASSASSINATION” and a picture of a crying woman taking up the whole page. It is common to see many large pictures on newspapers now in 2012, but it seems like this became popular after 1860 since there were no pictures posted along the article then. After going through the articles about different president’s assassination at different time periods, I thought that maybe the main purpose of the articles from different time period were not quiet the same. In 1860, when there were only about 3,000 newspapers existed in the United States, it seems like that the duty of journalists was just to deliver new events/information to the public; therefore, the design of the articles were solid and simple. However after the journalism field had rapidly developed 40-50years later, the numbers of newspapers increased to 13,000, so that the articles or the newspaper itself were designed to stand out from other newspapers. When there is only one newspaper available in the city, everyone will “choose” it, so the only thing the writers or publishers concern

about is to deliver the news to the public, but when the customers have twenty newspapers to choose from, the writers or publishers will concern about stuff more than delivering the news such as the design of the article or so on, so that the customers will choose that certain one article over other ones. Back in 1900, the way to make the article/newspaper stand out is to insert drawings, pictures or change the fonts, and currently in the 21st century, the newspapers became colorful and also they contain more interesting features such as comics and advertisements. At this rate, we can expect to see audios and videos on newspapers someday in the future, maybe.....?


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