The Titanic Sinks
On April 14, 1912, the RMS Titanic, on her maiden voyage to New York
from Southampton, UK, struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic Ocean and sank within three hours. During the evacuation, there weren’t enough lifeboats to hold everyone on the ship. Most of the lifeboats were only partially full when launched.
More than 2,200 passengers and crew were on the Titanic; more than 1,500 perished. Among the dead was William Thomas Stead, editor of the Pall Mall Gazette. The controversial British journalist pioneered the use of newspaper illustrations, sensational scoops and big headlines.
Early newspaper headlines about the disaster were big and bold, but they also were inaccurate.
In their race to get the latest information, newspapers carried conflicting accounts.
The Los Angeles Express falsely reported that all the passengers were safe. The New York Herald declared that 675 passengers, mostly women and children, were saved.
One reason for the confusion was the limitations of technology. In 1912, the fastest way to spread news was through Morse code on a wireless radio. But wireless messages often became distorted, especially over long distances or in poor weather. The RMS Carpathia received distress calls from Titanic’s wireless radio 35 minutes after the collision and sailed to the site to rescue survivors.
Though the exact count may never be known, the tally for Titanic’s 2,208 passengers and crew: 712 were saved; 1,496 died. The Carpathia reached New York three days after the rescue.
A selection of more than 30 graphics and historic front pages reporting on the Titanic disaster will be in the Today’s Front Pages glass display cases on Pennsylvania Avenue April 13 to 20. Some of those newspapers are featured with this story.
The story about the Titanic, and an exhibit on how reporting errors are made, are displayed in the News Corporation News History Gallery.
An “Inside Media” program, “The Titanic: 100 Years Later,” will be held Sunday, April 15, 2012, in the Knight TV Studio on Level 3 at 2:30 p.m.Related Links: