Six years ago today, the chaotic news environment surrouding the events of 9/11 spurred cable TV news networks to make the “news ticker” at the bottom of their screen a permanent part of the way they present news on-screen. Today’s news consumers are probably so used to seeing scrolling text at the bottom of their tv screens that they have probably forgotten that this feature was not always there. Wikipedia (of course) has a nice little entry on the history of this phenomenon. Here’s an excerpt:
“While tickers had been used occasionally by other networks over the years, it was the September 11 attacks of 2001 that made the ticker a ubiquitous part of the television news experience. Needing a way to provide a continuous stream of vital but repetitive emergency information to viewers, Fox News Channel placed a ticker on-screen at 10:49 a.m. CNN launched its own ticker at 11:11 a.m., and MSNBC started one at approximately 2:00 p.m. Although the need for attack-related tickers lasted only a few weeks, the management at all three major U.S. news channels quickly decided that news tickers would help increase viewership amongst younger viewers with shorter attention spans and the ability to process multiple simultaneous streams of information. As a result, the tickers have been permanent features on all three channels ever since, except during some documentary programming, presidential speeches, or select other programs.”
While this may just seem like an interesting piece of trivia to some, for me, this represents another small way in which “old media” institutions have been forced to adapt to existance of the Internet. The addition of scrolling text allows cable news networks to present simultaneous pieces of information in a shared space – just like a Web page.