Newspaper sensationalism of the sinking


Jim Currie

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If you search Notable events of 1985, you will be hard pressed to find any reference to Titanic at all.
The press reported it as a minor story on Sept 3 - two days later. On that day, The New York Times had it at the bottom LHS of the front page as a fill-in story alongside a story about water shortage in New York. That is how important the subject was to the every day world.
However, there seems to be a plethora of videos of US TV Station reports. One even claiming to being broadcast the very day of the discovery. Were the news hacks asleep?
 

Arun Vajpey

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Jul 8, 1999
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If you search Notable events of 1985, you will be hard pressed to find any reference to Titanic at all.
That does not mean anything. At any time in the last 60 years - including in 1985, 1997 and today - Titanic per se was never BIG news in the Kennedy Assassination, Moon Landing, Watergate, 9/11 and now Lady Corona mould. Having said that, a significant minority always had an interest in the subject and that interest showed spikes at various times like the 1958 ANTR film, 1985 discovery of the wreck and the 1997 film. Of these, I know for a fact that the spike following the discovery of the wreck was significantly higher than at any other time and persisted long enough to give Cameron the idea to make the film. If a big film maker decides to make a movie based on actual events, he/she will almost certainly consider public interest in the subject. That is why no one has risked their money making films about the Mary Celeste or the MV Joyita, both of which have far more interesting stories linked to them.

Also, I am in a happy but entirely coincidental position of being able to assess this from others' point of view. I first became interested in the Titanic in 1967 but both my interest and knowledge about it were marginal till 1985. But even during that time, there was significant public awareness (if not outright interest) about the Titanic disaster and IMO less than 5 out of 10 people would have said "I've never heard about it". My own interest spiked greatly after I came to the UK and met Mr Sheppard, himself a Titanic buff and went to school with Albert Daniels, Titanic survivor Sidney Daniels' son. But I did not notice any change in the public perception of the disaster until several months later when (coincidentally, from my perspective) the wreck was discovered.

The discovery may not have made immediate headlines, but it certainly was big news and remained in the public eye for a long time. I recall watching on TV several documentaries about Ballard's team, interviews with Walter Lord and others, new reprints of ANTR book and other previous Titanic related work, several new books (see post #60) and TV documentaries (in fact, I still have old VHS tapes) etc all of which happened before the 1997 film.
 
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