Fame and fortune go to the guys whose media needs electricity

Newspapers get no credit.

It is our own fault. Newsprint isn't shiny enough.

I always love it when we do a story and then electronic media like television stations read it and rework the story with attractive young people asking questions based on newspaper stories they just read and then put it on the air.

As soon as the story runs, people say, "Hey, did you see that story on the television. That reporter was young and attractive and it was so shiny."

Sure I could point out recent examples, but that would seem petty and I don't want to seem petty.

So I will use a famous event to demonstrate my point. We couldn't even get credit for scaring the pants off of people before television news even existed.

If I talk about aliens attacking earth, I'm sure a lot of recent movies come to mind.

But if I mention radio programs and Mars, your mind immediately goes to the time when Orson Welles read War of the Worlds over the air and was convincing enough in his fiction that he created quite a panic among those who heard it.

But Welles was scooped by a newspaper. It wasn't yesterday's newspaper either. Newspapers beat him to the satirical idea by more than 100 years.

On August 25, 1835, The New York Sun produced the first of a series of articles that were satirical and fictional.

They were so well written, like Welles' production 103 years later, that they fooled scientific journals and scientists alike.

The Great Moon Hoax series featured reports from the lunar surface.

The stories told tales of life found on the moon. Our new neighbors allegedly included two-legged beavers, furry humanlike bats, and unicorns.

Reports of massive craters, enormous crystals, rushing rivers and lush vegetation also filled the Sun's pages.

It didn't take long for the scientists to realize they had been duped. Even when the fraud was exposed a month or so later, readers didn't recoil.

In fact, sales stayed high as people found it mostly amusing. Those were the good old days.

Today, there would be 24-hour pundit coverage blaming the liberal media.

Regardless, it just goes to show that even when newspapers beat the electronic media to the punch by a century, all of the fame and fortune go to the guys whose media needs electricity to deliver a message rather than a kid on a bicycle.

Kent Bush is the publisher of the Augusta Gazette, the El Dorado Times, and the Andover American newspapers. He can be contacted at: kbush@augustagazette.com