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RSS in the Olden Days

by Angie Halama on October 1st, 2010

Hand-written headlines in a newspaper office window.

(Click image to enlarge.)

Before CNN scrolling news headlines. Before aggregators. Before Tweetdeck.

Way back in 1940 the Brockton Enterprise newspaper was providing a handmade news feed to passersby on the street: by posting headlines in its office windows.

I spotted this picture in a blog post of vintage color photos. I had no idea that newspapers had ever done this, and I don’t know whether it was a common practice. But what a great strategy for selling papers: entice people with the headlines so that they want to read more.

It makes me wonder how often they updated their “feed.” Every time the daily edition was released? As soon as a story broke? Did people purposely visit, or “subscribe” to, this corner to find out what was going on in the world?

Oh, and who was the lucky one hand-printing all those headlines and pasting them up in the window? Clicking “publish” never seemed easier.   

The method may be old-fashioned, but the strategy is as modern as, well, today’s headlines.

  • Anonymous

    What a great find! This is a great post, Angie.

  • TheWA

    This was a fairly common practice for many newspapers. How often the “feeds” were updated would depend on the specific publisher, how urgent the news was, etc. And some people did walk by a newspaper office just to see what was going on. The hope. of course, was that you’d want to buy a paper to get more details.

    During wartime emergencies, or, in Britain, when the monarch was known to be dying, crowds sometimes gathered, waiting and watching for updates. Accounts of this sort of thing are scattered here and there. Not every newspaper did this, but it was not unusual, either.

  • Jo Marsicano

    This is fascinating. If I were running a retail outlet in a high-density area, I might try this as a “novel” way to attract in-store traffic. Great post. Thanks for the history lesson!

  • http://twitter.com/GISExchange Katie Jacques

    Makes subscribing to an RSS feed seem like a piece-o-cake! Subscribe to Autodesk product support RSS http://www.autodesk.com/rss

  • http://www.theuniuni.com/ Payton_vege

    Amazing write-up! This could aid plenty of people find out more about this particular issue. Are you keen to integrate video clips coupled with these? It would absolutely help out. Your conclusion was spot on and thanks to you; I probably won’t have to describe everything to my pals. I can simply direct them here!

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