Before the Web, There Was the Storefront

A post by Chris Marstall today on The Boston Globe website pulls out some great photos from the Globe’s archives of Newspaper Row, the blocks in front of the paper’s headquarters. When news broke, Globe staffers rushed out to the street to write headlines on big blackboards to grab the attention of passersby.

Marstall compares this practice to today’s quick posts on that are put up ahead of longer features as the stories develop. Both the storefront blackboards and the website are “free, real-time, ad-supported product[s],” he notes—as ads were posted behind the Globe’s windows alongside the headlines.

Breaking news—a bank holdup, a bus accident, the death of FDR—was quickly featured on the storefront (NB: usually in 140 characters or less). The storefront even offered streaming multimedia of a kind: telegraph dispatches of boxing matches and baseball games were shouted out play by play through a pair of loudspeakers.

The snapshot below is from June 1944, when a map of Europe helped provide context for the news about D-Day. Check out Marstall’s post here for more great shots.

(Via Andrew Phelps.)

Has America ever needed a media watchdog more than now? Help us by joining CJR today.

Lauren Kirchner is a freelance writer covering digital security for CJR. Find her on Twitter at @lkirchner