Friday, July 12, 2013

America's First Real Mass Media Story: The Great Moon Hoax of 1835

Yale College was alive with staunch supporters. The literati — students and professors, doctors in divinity and law — and all the rest of the reading community, looked daily for the arrival of the New York mail with unexampled avidity and implicit faith. Have you seen the accounts of Sir John Herschel's wonderful discoveries? Have you read the Sun? Have you heard the news of the man in the Moon? These were the questions that met you every where. It was the absorbing topic of the day. Nobody expressed or entertained a doubt as to the truth of the story.

So, the first real mass media event in American history, almost immediately following the advent of the steam-powered printing press and the introduction of the street corner paper boy, was this wild, fantastical hoax that fooled the majority.

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