STEAMER VIRGINIA RESPONDS TO CALLS FOR AID FROM LARGEST LINER; CARRIES MANY NOTED PEOPLE
(1) Daily News; Marshall, Mich. Sunday, April 14, 1912
(2) Los Angeles Times; Apr 16, 1912
While looking at stories written in the early 20th century, it looks as if no bylines were given to a story unless it was of high importance. What I find odd in the story of the sinking of the Titanic is that there is no byline, when in fact this story is and was extremely important.
The frame of the story written in the Daily News (1) is based around a current event, and was published to inform the public of a current, tragic event, regardless of the amount of accurate information they were able to supply. The reporter felt a responsibility to inform those concerned about the collision with as much information as they could supply, knowing full well that as they obtained further information, it would be included in later publications to either support, or make corrections to, this specific story. Important information that they were able to include; however, were names of noted passengers that were known to be aboard the vessel. It also mentions the near-crash between the Titanic and the American Liner New York, which is important detail to include in the story. The LA Times Article (2) does not mention this near-crash, it does mention previous marine disasters that could be related, although not as tragic, to the Titanic disaster.
An interesting fact the LA Times Article also reports is that there were false messages being received that the Titanic was only "badly damaged" but was not sinking.
When it came to the tragedy of the “Unsinkable” White Star Liner, RMS Titanic, it is very possible it proved to be difficult to write about, as the event took place in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Although no sources are directly quoted in the Daily News article, the writer does provide as much information as they could since they were writing the article less than 12 hours after the ship struck the iceberg. In the LA Times Article), a source is shown, though, that source being the White Star Line officials, who stated that there had been a "horrible loss of life."
Something noticeable; however, were some inaccurate facts that the reporter still should have been able to receive accurately without being at the scene of the vessel-iceberg collision. The subhead reads that there were 1,300 passengers on board the Titanic, when in fact there were approximately 2,223 passengers. Looking at various articles written around the same time frame, it seems as if no newspaper received a truly accurate number when these stories first printed. The estimated number of passengers is reported correctly in the LA Times Article (2), written two days later, which could either mean that they spent more time to get more accurate information, or they were just lucky enough to get a correct estimate.
The reporter of this article should have contacted, if possible, any member of White Star Line to obtain any information regarding what reports they had received of the collision. After reading the article, it was clear that the reporter did obtain information about the last received distress call from the Titanic, but fails to attribute where that information came from. This is a common occurrence throughout the story, as it explains the claims that the ship herself was thought to be “unsinkable,” along with facts of its construction and noted passenger list.
This story can very much compare to articles written on the day of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Centers in New York City. The Titanic, being the largest passenger steamship in her time, was viewed as an extremely iconic and luxurious project. The Titanic was a symbol of economic power and might, a symbolic statement to the rest of the world. The Twin Towers were viewed as powerful buildings, and as indestructible landmarks. Both tragic events, although at very different times, were received the same way, through shock and disbelief.