I remember as a small child going with my family downtown on a summer evening or whenever we were looking for something to do. We didn’t go shopping, we went watching. Since we only had a radio for evening entertainment we often went in the car downtown and parked. We would get out of the car and sit on the curb and visit with other families or just sit and watch the cars or people go by. One of the favorite places was in front of the newspaper building. If there was something important happening in America we could get information quickly from the newspaper people who would be watching the ticker tape.
There was a variety of publications, which were going to press every minute, every second, during twelve hours of the day. When there was some big event on hand it would stay on the job the whole twenty-four hours, bringing out an edition at every tick of the clock. This minute-by-minute publication was the strip of paper tape which unreeled itself from the ticker machines.
Usually it was stock market news, but the ringside story of a prizefight, the arrival of an ocean liner, the weather conditions in some far-off section, the occurrence of a big railroad accident, of a calamitous earthquake, events big and little, thrilling and trivial, would be duly recorded on this little strip of paper tape. There are lots of us who have at some time or other, stood outside the newspaper office waiting for the ticker to let us all know what was going on in a condensed story of the current history event.
I remember, in particular, the night when we waited for the ticker to tell us who was going to win the Presidential race between Harry S Truman and Thomas E Dewey. The newspaper people would post the state ballot count on a black board on the sidewalk. Does anyone remember Harry? He coined the phrase “The Buck Stops Here”…………Someone else needs that sign on the desk. That was the night of the wrong person being confirmed the winner. Guess you could call it the “most famous newspaper error”.
“Dewey Defeats Truman” was a famously inaccurate banner headline on the front page of the Chicago Tribune on November 3, 1948, the day after incumbent United States President Harry S. Truman beat Republican challenger and Governor of New York Thomas E. Dewey in the 1948 presidential election in an upset victory.
The paper’s erroneous headline became notorious after a jubilant Truman was photographed holding a copy of the paper during a stop at St. Louis Union Station while returning by train from his home in Independence, Missouri to Washington, D.C. Truman’s joy was no doubt increased by the gaffe from the staunchly conservative Republican Chicago Tribune, which had once referred to Truman as a “nincompoop”. In a retrospective article over half a century later about the newspaper’s most famous and most embarrassing headline, the Tribune wrote that Truman “had as low an opinion of the Tribune as it did of him.”