Customer Reviews for

When the News Went Live: Dallas 1963

Average Rating 4.5
( 4 )
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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2005

    A Real Page-Turner

    This book is a must-read for journalism students, assassination and history buffs, and all of us who are old enough to remember where we were when we learned that Kennedy had been shot. It's a fascinating study of the events surrounding that tragedy from the viewpoint of local TV reporters, with revealing background info on the major players, the journalistic ethics of the day (long since changed, not for the better), disparate views of the city from inside and afar, and an informed look at the origins of some popular conspiracy theories. Bill Mercer's recollection of his interviews on the grassy knoll is particularly touching. For those of us of a certain age, there is an evocation of time and place that stays with the reader long after the book has been finished.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 6, 2005


    I stayed up all night reading when my copy of When The News Went Live, Dallas 1963 arrived. This book is a classic and should be included in the curriculum of every journalism and political science classroom in America. Huffaker, Mercer, Phenix and Wise have written the Texas story of the Kennedy assassination, the inside scoop on Oswald¿s murder and the history of the evolution of modern journalism. These four men were Dallas television reporters, on the scene and on their own, in the middle of the news story of the century. It is a salute to their training and their integrity as newsmen that their coverage under duress stands today as a compelling rendering of those fateful moments. I am glad they were the early ones on the scene, for they were the ones who broke the news to me in my elementary classroom. The story gives their perspectives more fully; all these years later, this book helps me understand the events and how they affected Texas and the nation. Bob, Bill, George and Wes were there in Dallas with their Southern sensibilities. They weren¿t easily pushed around or manipulated that dark day and still aren¿t. They were taught to tell the truth as objectively as possible, and they reverted to that training and their good common sense when placed in positions lesser men might have blown or exploited. These four men cared about truth and justice and fairness and still do. I hope all young journalists will read this and learn about balanced reporting.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 3, 2013

    Bob Huffaker, along with Bill Mercer, George Phenix and Wes Wise

    Bob Huffaker, along with Bill Mercer, George Phenix and Wes Wise were reporters for KRLD in Dallas in November 1963 when JFK was assassinated in their city.  The authors provide their recollections of the day and the aftermath of the assassination in a way that is forthright and telling. It is a first person account that needed to be told before their particular voices are lost to history. They take care to let us know what it meant to be a reporter in 1963 and you were more than just a talking head; you had to write and edit your own copy and any audio or video they shot. These men were reporters who literally had their hands in the entire news process from front to back.

    They tell the story of the JFK assassination almost literally through their microphones and the lens of their cameras; who was covering what and where.  This is not a discussion of how the assassination was carried out; this is a tale of how the event was covered, whether from Love Field, Dealy Plaza, the Trade Plaza, Dallas PD or Parkland Hospital. Along the way, we see how the national and international media swooped in helped make that weekend the media circus that it was. (This reviewer shudders at the thought of such an unfortunate event of this magnitude in this era of 24/7 news cycles and the overwhelming rush to be "first" as opposed to "correct".) 

    Along the way, we also get a look behind the scenes at how these men utilized their contacts within the Dallas PD to get background information on their stories and how they did it in a manner that respected their sources.  By contrast, we also have evidence that the 21st century news media does not have a monopoly on crafting a narrative with which to frame a story.  Dan Rather - the purveyor of the forged George H. Bush Air National Guard documents - went and ran with a story about the children of one Dallas elementary school cheering when JFK's assassination was announced. This was made to appear that Dallas was "a city of hate". It turns out, the cheers were because they were being let out of school early; a reason for which any school-age child would cheer. Similarly, noted CBS commentator Eric Sevareid is faulted for relying on his research staff who spoke with one of the authors several times about Oswald's murder, yet none of that information made it to Sevareid's commentary that day.

    A major weakness of the book is the authors' seeming bias against conservatives. The authors frequently use terms like "arch-conservative", "rabid right winger" and the like; yet no liberal is given similar terms. In their end commentaries on the media today, they make many sideways remarks about Fox News, either expressly or implied using their slogan "Fair and Balanced". In my opinion, this takes away from their objectivity and as such causes me to de-rate the book by one whole star.

    BOTTOM LINE: This is a wonderful book for those interested in reading about the JFK assassination from a different point of view; namely, those who covered it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 28, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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