Getting the news

The hallmark of a historic event is that people remember where they were when they first heard about it. I don’t know whether the death of former President Ronald Reagan will be remembered in those terms, but I will record here that I was in the Green Room at Raleigh Little Theatre. Tech Week for Smokey Joe’s Cafe began today. That’s the week of dress rehearsals (with light and sound cues, scenery and props) that precedes opening night. It’s traditional for the cast to provide dinner for the crew on the first night of Tech Week, so it was during Tech Dinner that I heard the news of Reagan’s passing from the other techies sitting at my table.
I remember where I was when President Reagan almost died in 1981. On March 30, 1981, I was in my room at the Bates West dormitory at the University of South Carolina. I don’t recall exactly how I first got the news, but I remember that within an hour or two of the shooting, The State published an extra edition reporting all of the information that was available. The newspaper carrier who normally delivered the paper to Bates West subscribers came through the dorm knocking on doors and offering the extra for sale. I bought a copy, and I still have it somewhere. It was the only extra edition of a newspaper I had ever seen.
And I’ve never seen another one. It’s hard to imagine a newspaper rushing out a special edition today. What would be the point? By the time they can print it and deliver it to customers, those people will already have seen the same information on CNN, or read it on any of a hundred news sites on the Web.
Of course, the same thing is true of the regular daily edition of any newspaper. By the time it reaches your front porch, it’s already out of date. That’s one of the reasons I don’t subscribe to a daily newspaper anymore.

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