By Katie Kreis
Grant Price witnessed a rapidly changing world, from technological advancements like the television and computer that catapulted journalism forward through the Great Depression, Civil Rights Movement and multiple wars. From 1923 to 2008, his 85-year life saw Iowa elect women for the first time ever to the positions of Supreme Court Justice, Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General, and reported during the time Iowa Caucuses began their strong influence on presidential elections. He also saw the world of legacy media and First Amendment laws adapt to the world of ever-changing new media - a transition that many struggled with.
As research shows, communication means between 1840 and 1970 were only as advanced as the oldest software; this meant that telephones used the telegraph to help transmit messages. At the time Grant Price entered the media industry, television was a new technology. He utilized this emerging technology for business rather than the more popular novelty usage, setting a precedence for how journalism could utilize television. The telephone had outsmarted the telegraph and the television had outsmarted the radio, but print journalism remained a constant; the trouble was the question of connecting all of these forms of communication to operate on a similar system and be available to the mass public. In 1970, the world of communication changed forever with the invention of computer-to-computer networks as a precursor to the internet. A changing world consequently required changing of the legal system.
“In 1967, the Supreme Court mied that the imperative to deliver timely news reduced liability for the harm it might cause. This decision relieved the producers of telegraphic news from owning responsibility for its effects even though, paradoxically, earlier rulings had recognized that they owned timeliness for the purposes of marketing wire stories” (Kielbowicz, 2015, p. 4).
Now, we have the internet, websites, social media, smart phones, YouTube, Netflix, Vox and other entirely new ways to consume news. “Exploring the regulation of timely telegraphic news brings together three lines of inquiry: timeliness as a journalistic attribute, the powerful albeit contingent effects of technology and political economy on newsgathering, and the interplay of disparate regulatory forms” (Kielbowicz, 2015, p. 5). The Society of Professional Journalists code of ethics states that journalists shall “respond quickly to questions about accuracy, clarity and fairness,” but that “neither speed nor format excuses inaccuracy” (SPJ Code of Ethics, 2014). Grant Price lived through the transition of a world where newspapers were the most relevant source of news consumption and journalism was a hardcore lifestyle to a world where much of the population getting their news on Facebook, where anyone and everyone can be a journalist. The Vietnam War was the first televised war to the American public. This new access to information with moving pictures drastically shaped public opinion on the war and ultimately the way in which stations, news directors and reporters covered the topic. As a journalist during the Vietnam War, Price would have never been able to even conceive of ideas spreading as quickly as they do online or other countries interfering with propaganda on social websites.
Grant Price lived in a journalistic world built on the foundation of accuracy, relevance and timeliness unlike the modern emphasis on timeliness above all else.