First News Memory

People on Twitter are asking:

What’s the first major news event you remember seeing on TV?

For me it was definitely the 1980 Olympics in Moscow. I was very taken by the big teddy bear flying away on a bunch of balloons. I still have separation anxiety because of that 🐻 leaving.

19 thoughts on “First News Memory”

    1. methylethyl, I am probably older than you, but for me it was also Challenger…
      I do vaguely remember seeing the first Shuttle (1977 or 1979), Moscow Olympics and Brezhnev dying (1982), but they did not impress me that much…


      1. Hard to say. There were probably a lot of memorable things on the TV news before that, that I might’ve remembered. But my family did not have a TV. The big deal about Challenger was that there was a teacher onboard, and we watched it at school.


        1. ” Challenger …we watched it at school”

          That must have been traumatic for schoolchildren… It wasn’t that traumatic for me (unfortunate but not much more). I had spent part of the morning at a university gallery that was showing very…. graphic pictures of the US supported wars in Central America (especially El Salvador). These were journalistic black and white pictures of big piles of corpses killed by US backed death squads and obviously pretty depressing. I then wandered over to a campus dining room just in time to see the Challenger explode (live or replay… I don’t remember).
          My family was not very sympathetic to my… more detached attitude….


          1. At the time, it wasn’t clear to us exactly what had happened, only that the teachers were upset, and turned it off, and hustled us back to our classrooms. I don’t remember any other TV news stories until the Loma Prieta earthquake, after that.


            1. I remember the Challenger. The consensus among the adults around me was that what can you expect, naming it this way? Don’t challenge the powers that are bigger than you.


              1. I also remember the Challenger incident with regret about an unfortunate remark. I was the flight surgeon member on an Air Force aircraft accident investigation board that was meeting during the launch, and the event was playing on a television set in an adjacent room.

                One of the board members asked the board chief, “Sir, why don’t we delay the board long enough for us to watch the launch?” My flippant response was, “Don’t worry. You’ll be able to hear the explosion from the conference room.”

                Not the first time I’ve regretted my bad timing with a joke.


  1. ” first major news event you remember seeing on TV”

    Well I was too young to remember anything of the Cuban Missile Crisis and I heard about the Kennedy assassination at school (overheard one teacher tell the other) and I heard about other major events from family members (parents both in journalism so we often knew about things before they were on TV) or friends…. (I remember the assassination of Martin Luther King but not of Bobby Kennedy…) didn’t understand the significance of the Warsaw pact invasion of Czechoslovakia…

    I’m gonna have to go with the Apollo 11 moon landing…. My brother had made a major deal about how important it was and insisted we stay up to see it (and fell asleep before the “one small step” and was very grumpy at attempts to wake him).


    1. Yes, that’s the first news thing I clearly remember on TV. We had TV before that but I didn’t see news on it, news was in the paper . . . ALTHOUGH I think I am unearthing it. They had footage of the war in Viet Nam every day. There were death scores like football scores. US dead 3, Viet Cong dead 4. You would see US soldiers walking around in this dusty jungle-like terrain.


  2. I have very vague memories of the election of Jimmy Carter. I think I only remember it because the whole family gathered at my grandparents’ house to watch the election returns and it was unusual for everyone to get together to watch television. I also have some vague memories of the Iran hostage crisis and the election of Reagan.

    I think the earliest event that I remember and actually understood at the time was the attempted assassination of Reagan in 1981. I was at school and they made an announcement. My grandmother really like Reagan and she had the TV on and was really upset when I got home from school.


  3. Reply to First News Memory

    This is a strange question. The first news story I remember hearing about on the radio was the death of Stalin. I am not sure I had ever seen a television at that time. I had no idea who Stalin was at the time, until my parents tried to explain.


  4. The first one I remember with real clarity is the Iran hostage crisis. Of course that wasn’t really a discrete event.


  5. My family didn’t get a television until late 1955, so the first televised “news” events that I saw were the 1956 Democratic and Republican Presidential conventions. International television news coverage was at an early stage technologically back then, so there wasn’t much American TV footage of major events in Eastern Europe like the Hungarian Revolution in October 1956.


    1. That’s pretty good. We got a TV in 1964. From my great-aunt’s house, who had given us our tv and who had better color herself, I saw the Soviet tanks roll into Prague, and Dubcek saying it was a bad thing.


  6. The 9/11 attack on the Twin Towers. I was in second or third grade. Someone had come and told my teacher, and she started crying in the middle of class. Then we went to the library and they were showing it on TV.


  7. The gulf war. It was very exciting. Short and to the point. I remember the buildup seemed to take forever. I couldn’t understand what they were waiting for. I thought they should just get on with it and attack. My biggest worry was Bush would chicken out and there wouldn’t be a war.

    The sequel was a huge disappointment. A bloated mess that tried to outdo the original.


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