Wednesday, March 30, 2011

30 Years Ago

It was one of those "Where were you when?" moments.

President Ronald Reagan was shot thirty years ago today.

My story is not spectacular.  It's not even interesting, but interesting has never been criteria for the blog, so I'll pass along the story here.

I was a sophomore at Marywood College, now Marywood University in Scranton.   There was, and is, a section for radio and TV students in the basement of the library.  The radio station TV station, newsroom and a couple classrooms are in one compact area.  I was arriving for a late afternoon television production class when I heard the news.  No, I don't remember who told me.  The instructor, who didn't last long at Marywood, had to pull me away from a television to get me in the classroom.  What he should have done was let us watch the coverage so we could learn how breaking news is produced.  Unfortunately, it didn't happen.  The class was less than memorable, as they all were.

I hurried home, after class, to watch TV.  It was captivating.  Information was often contradicting and wrong.  News gathering capabilities were archaic by today's standards.  The networks were able to pull it together.  I remember ABC being my network of choice that afternoon and evening.

Once again, I couldn't pull myself away from the TV.  I do recall having a test in something the next day, and I believe it was a social science course.  I didn't study because I kept watching TV, and I do remember doing well in the test nonetheless.

We were talking about the 84 presidential campaign in the newsroom after the death of Geraldine Ferraro over the weekend, and how Walter Mondale got creamed in that year's election.  Ronald Reagan was a likable guy-- even more so when he was shot.  Reagan was still in his honeymoon period, a little more than two months after inauguration day.

A lot of the coverage from 1981 is on YouTube.  TV technology has changed.  Good story telling hasn't.  The ability to convey information in a crisis, on the fly, is a skill a select few possess.  Watch it in action from 3/30/81.