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Diana's Early Press Problems (plus 9 other NY Times first mentions)

Every Monday, we travel into the archives of The New York Times to find the first time the paper covered various topics. This edition looks at Princess Diana, Yo-Yo Ma, Chuck Klosterman, Nelson Mandela, The Simpsons and more.

Diana Spencer

December 15, 1980

For 'Hounding' a Friend of Charles, Press Is Chided
diana-spencer.jpgThe latest round of feverish speculation about Prince Charles's marriage prospects has touched off a new debate in Britain about the press and royal privacy.

Even Buckingham Palace, which normally says not a word about such things, has felt obliged to formally protest some of the recent speculation, and the mother of Lady Diana Spencer, the 19-year-old woman being mentioned as a possible royal bride, has indignantly accused the newspapers of printing lies and hounding her daughter.

"May I ask the editors of Fleet Street," said Lady Diana's mother, Frances Shand Kydd, in a letter published in The Times of London this month, "whether they consider it necessary or fair to harass my daughter daily, from dawn until well after dusk? Is it fair to ask any human being, regardless of circumstances, to be treated in this way?"
* * * * *
For weeks, her picture has been in the newspapers almost daily, accompanied by stories reporting such momentous news as the fact that she stalled her mini-car, a bright red Metro, in traffic and had trouble restarting it, or that she disclosed in an interview that she liked children, a trait that is presumably not unusual in a kindergarten teacher.

Yo-Yo Ma

November 19, 1962

Spectacle on Closed-Circuit TV to Herald Cultural Center Drive
yo-yo-ma.jpgOne of the most ambitious closed-circuit television shows to be produced will open a $30,000,000 fund-raising campaign on November 29 for the National Cultural Center in Washington.
* * * * *
Called "An American Pageant of the Arts" and conceived a year ago by Roger L. Stevens, the center's chairman, the show will have a cast of 100, including President and Mrs. Kennedy, former President and Mrs. Dwight D. Eisenhower, Leonard Bernstein (as master of ceremonies), Pablo Casals, Marian Anderson, Van Cliburn, Robert Frost, Fredric March, Benny Goodman, Bob Newhart and a 7-year-old Chinese cellist named Yo-Yo Ma, who was brought to the program's attention by Casals.

Keep reading for Chuck Klosterman, Jeff Bezos, Nelson Mandela, Marty McFly and more.

Chuck Klosterman

June 3, 2001

Headbanger's Ball
klosterman1.jpgFor Chuck Klosterman...the end of hair metal was a kick in the heart. Growing up in a North Dakota farm town, Klosterman, now a music and film critic for The Akron Beacon Journal, used metal to invent himself. Pop Satanism, flamboyant excess: these were his heartland values, and he's here to insist that Tipper Gore needn't have worried. The kids were all right. They knew a multimedia pose when it was marketed to them.

As goofy as its subject, Fargo Rock City is part memoir, part barstool rant, and it is ridiculously engaging. The tone, to put it mildly, is loose. Klosterman lists the apparent sexual proclivities -- based on their lyrics and videos, anyway -- of different metal bands. ("WINGER: Whoever Bon Jovi groupies used to baby-sit. POISON: Girls who liked to tease; girls from small towns; good girls gone bad. KISS: Any girl who wasn't dead. IRON MAIDEN: Dead girls.") He compares Jon Bon Jovi to Robert Frost, analyzes the Whitesnake video where Tawny Kitaen copulated with a Porsche, reveals his salary, his sexual and drinking histories and his home phone number should readers have a complaint.

Jeff Bezos

January 2, 1997

Payoff Still Elusive in Internet Gold Rush
bezos9.jpgThere are three main ways that companies (and individuals) are trying to make money on the Internet. The first is to develop content so compelling that people will pay to see it, a strategy that has succeeded mostly in the pornography market, but is also being followed by Encyclopædia Britannica (http://www.eb.com/) among others.

The second, and far easier, path is to sell advertising, generally consisting of little banners at the top of popular Web pages that with one click will take the user away to a Web site for, say, a taco. Many observers question the effectiveness of banner ads, and many users complain about finding sales pitches everywhere.
* * * * *
The third road to Internet riches is taking orders on line for real-life products, a $518 million market in 1996, Forrester Research estimated. When experts talk about on-line retailers, one of the first names that comes up is Virtual Vineyards (http://www.virtualvin.com/), which is based in Palo Alto, Calif., and has shipped tens of thousands of bottles of Internet-ordered wine since early 1995.
* * * * *
But Jeff P. Bezos, founder and chief executive of Seattle-based Amazon.com (http://www.amazon.com), which bills itself as "Earth's biggest bookstore" and is generally regarded as one of the big Internet success stories, with sales increasing by more than one-third each month for the last 18 months, put things in a different light.

"We are not profitable," he said. "We could be. It would be the easiest thing in the world to be profitable. It would also be the dumbest. We are taking what might be profits and reinvesting them in the future of the business. It would literally be the stupidest decision any management team could make to make Amazon.com profitable right now."

Nelson Mandela

August 13, 1952

South Africa Seizes Non-White Leaders
mandela-1951.jpgWith the bulk of the 2,015 non-white defiers of "unjust laws" still crowding the jails...the Nationalist Government today struck at the defiance campaign organized by the African National Congress (Negroes) and Indian Congress by arresting six prominent Indian and Negro leaders, including Yusuf Cachalia, joint secretary of the South African Indian Congress, and Nelson Mandela, president of the Youth League of the African National Congress. All six submitted quietly. They were told they were being held under the anti-Red law.

Mel Kiper, Jr.

April 6, 1981

The Draftnik Papers
mel-kiper.jpg What do you do if you are an 18-year-old junior college student with little interest in school but a lot in sports? Mel Kiper Jr. of Baltimore solved that problem by dropping out of college and going into the sports business. He began operating a service to provide inside information on college and pro football teams to bettors or anyone who wants to use it. Kiper extracted information from any source he could find, such as newspapers, games on television and contacts around the country. He began getting people to make videotape recordings from television of games in their areas. He then analyzed the games.
* * * * *
Last month he brought out a 96-page magazine-like publication on the draft that reads like a report a pro team might compile. The 1981 Draft Report, for a price of $20, is so detailed that it not only gives names, weights, heights and speeds of the best prospects for the National Football League draft later this month, but also analyzes the needs of each team, projects next year's top prospects and even discusses the attitude problems of some of this season's top prospects.

Of Leonard Mitchell, a 270-pound University of Houston tackle, Kiper brashly writes: "Will need to show more dedication and prove that he wants to excel."

Marty McFly

July 3, 1985

In 'Future,' Boy Returns to the Past
martymcfly.jpg
The hero of the film is named Marty McFly, though his mother insists, when he ventures back in time 30 years, on calling him Calvin Klein. The film's observation that, in those days, a name sewn onto the back of one's pants was probably one's own is only one of the shrewd, rueful contrasts it draws between 1955 and the present day. Once Marty (played winningly by Michael J. Fox) steps into the specially equipped DeLorean owned by a mad scientist friend of his and floors the accelerator, he finds himself in a much simpler world. The neighborhood where he will someday live hasn't even been built. The local soda jerk thinks anyone who orders a Pepsi Free ("If you want a Pepsi you gotta pay for it!") is being a wise guy. The town's movie theater is playing a Ronald Reagan film, and when Marty announces that Mr. Reagan will be President some day, he is met with a stare of disbelief and a sarcastic remark about Vice President Jerry Lewis.
* * * * *
One of the most appealing things about Back to the Future is its way of putting nostalgia gently in perspective. Like Marty, Mr. Zemeckis takes a bemused but unsentimental view of times gone by. And he seems no less fascinated by the future, which is understandable. His own looks very bright.

And here are three gems we've covered in past installments...

The Simpsons

December 23, 1988

simpsons.jpgTelevision Ad for Cartoonist
It is rare that an underground cartoonist finds himself in demand for commercial work, but Matt Groening has made the leap. Mr. Groening is the creator of Life in Hell, an anarchic strip that appears in 103 publications, mostly alternative newsweeklies. Now, The Simpsons, a strange cartoon family he invented for television's Tracey Ullman Show, will be featured in a new ad by Lintas: New York for Butterfinger candy bars, a Planters Life Savers product that makes its debut Jan. 2.

Digital Watch

July 21, 1973

A Watch That Takes the Hard Time Out of Telling Time
pulsar1.jpgNow there's a new toy for the man with a collection of watches. The digital watch, which is operated by a sort of tiny computer, takes all the guess work out of time reading by flashing the hours and minutes in numerals on its face.
* * * * *
Sales are brisk although the Pulsar is not a thing of beauty compared to many good watches. The watch itself is thick, to accommodate its computer and battery, and weighs about four ounces with its metal strap. Until its "command" button is pressed, it shows nothing but a blank, dark-red face and looks like a dead television screen. But that, presumably, is the fun of owning one. Ask the Pulsar wearer what time it is, and without saying a word, he presses the button and you know it's 9:42.

Product Placement (in movies/TV)

November 15, 1982

Plugging Products In Movies As An Applied Art
The script for Rocky III is amended to include a Wheaties scene, in which Rocky advises his young son to eat the "breakfast of champions" if he wants to grow up big and strong. In North Dallas 40, a scene involving salad dressing is inserted so that the actors can conspicuously use Bertolli Olive Oil. In Honeysuckle Rose, the beer bottles are carefully arranged so that a particular beer is by Willie Nelson's side when he's relaxed and happy. As for the troublemakers, they drink another brand.

tv_friends.gifThese touches are the handiwork of an up-and-coming entrepreneur called the product placer, whose business it is to make sure that moviemakers and manufacturers enjoy a close, symbiotic relationship. In the days when Hollywood cared more for elegance, this might not have been possible "“ brand-name products on screen would have seemed hopelessly declasse. Even in recent years, the use of merchandise in movies was fairly random. But nowadays it's becoming an organized process, and the brand-name products that turn up as movie props are less and less likely to have landed there by accident.

[Image of mental_floss on Friends courtesy of The Trivia Hall of Fame. "Actor David Arquette became a fan, and a copy ended up in Courtney Cox-Arquette's hands on the set."]

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Old News: Very Early Media Coverage of the GOP Candidates

Every week, I used to wander into the New York Times archives to find the first time the paper covered various topics (like The Walkman). In honor of tonight's Iowa Caucus, we're bringing back "The First Time News Was Fit to Print." Here are the first times The Times mentioned each of the remaining GOP candidates.

Mitt Romney

February 28, 1960

A Maverick Starts a New 'Crusade'
mitt-and-george.jpgGeorge Romney feels that he has pat across the compact car. Now he is turning his missionary fervor to a campaign to reshape American political institutions.

The man who made the compact car big competition for Detroit's land yachts is crusading against bigness on an even bigger scale these days. George Romney, the almost terrifyingly earnest head of the American Motors Corporation, has moved from his conquest of the gas-guzzling dinosaur into a battle to break up the concentration of economic power embodied in giant companies and giant unions.
*
He speaks with equal disrespect of the ranking politicians of both major parties when it comes to their readiness to face up to what he considers the make-or-break issues in America's survival.
*
George Romney considers talking his wife out of a movie career his greatest sales achievement. They are shown here with their children, Mitt, Jane and Scott.

[Well, not here. This picture is from two years later, when George announced he was running for President. To see the picture referenced here, you'll have to check out the original article.]

Ron Paul

April 28, 1976

Big Victory by Bentsen Called Vital to Re-election
ron-paul.jpg
John B. Connally, the popular former Democratic Governor [of Texas], was credited in 1970 with pushing Mr. [Lloyd] Bentsen to victory over Mr. [George] Bush [in the Senate race]. Mr. Connally, now a Republican, helped a politically unknown gynecologist, Dr. Ron Paul, upset a liberal Democrat, Bob Gammage, in a race last month to fill the unexpired 22d Congressional District seat vacated by Democrat Bob Casey, who has been appointed to the Federal Maritime Commission.

Rick Santorum

November 7, 1990

The 1990 Elections: State by State
In an upset, Representative Doug Walgren, a seven-term Democratic Congressman from Pittsburgh, lost to a political neophyte, Richard Santorum, a 32-year-old Republican lawyer who ran on an anti-incumbent theme.

Michele Bachmann

September 24, 2006

Campaign in Crisis Mode (by Charles Baxter)
While my assignment was to write about Minnesota’s important Senate race, I think there’s more to be learned right now from the far closer contest in Minnesota’s Sixth Congressional District, which borders Minneapolis-St. Paul to the east, north and west. The race, between Michele Bachmann, the Republican, and Patty Wetterling, the Democrat, has revealed a Bush-era national trend now visible locally.
*
Terrorism has infected every subject and every discussion, even locally. Alarmism has become so ubiquitous in discussions of Iraq, the decline of the family and financing for Social Security and education that polarization is assured. Extremity, after all, is more newsworthy than good sense.

This outlook has the effect of trivializing most local issues — who cares about farm-price supports when radical Muslims want to make Stillwater part of the caliphate? And it ensures that the volume will always be turned up to 11 — at least until everybody begins to suffer crisis fatigue and tries to calm down.

Newt Gingrich

November 2, 1974

Divided GOP in Georgia Facing a Rout on Tuesday
In another House race, however, Republicans may be able to take some comfort. In the state's Sixth District, suburban Atlanta, the 10-term Democratic mainstay who ran unopposed in 1972, faces a strong challenge from a 31-year-old history professor, Newt Gingrich. Although Mr. Flynt is favored, he is facing some difficulty because he is now running in a redrawn district in which his strength has not yet been tested.

[Note: Gingrich narrowly lost.]

Rick Perry

November 8, 1990

Farm Chief's Foe Has the Last Laugh
The Texas Agriculture Commissioner with the Borscht Belt sense of humor is out. Jim Hightower, a two-term incumbent known as an advocate of enlightened farming as well as one of the funniest figures in American politics, was defeated Tuesday by Rick Perry, a 40-year-old rancher and farmer.
*
Katie Dickie, Mr. Perry's press secretary, said today that her candidate "took a lot of angry farmers, banded them together, raised money in places like Garden City, Sterling City, the small places all across Texas, East Texas and West Texas."

She added, "Rick wants to refocus the department on mainstream agriculture."

Jon M. Huntsman, Jr.

July 22, 1998

Nova of Canada to Purchase Huntsman Styrene Business
The Nova Corporation of Canada will acquire the bulk of the styrene operations of the Huntsman Corporation for $860 million (United States) in cash and preferred stock, the companies announced yesterday.
*
For Huntsman, of Salt Lake City, the largest privately held chemical company in the United States, the deal represents a chance to pay down debt and to increase funds to homeless shelters and other charities that its ownership family has long supported.

In particular, it will let Huntsman funnel more than $100 million into research on genetic predispositions to cancer. Jon M. Huntsman [the candidate's father], the company's chairman, lost both his parents to cancer and has had two bouts with the disease himself.
*
Under the terms of yesterday's deal, Huntsman will receive $625 million in cash, and $235 million of nonvoting preferred shares, which can be converted to a maximum of 10 million common shares of Nova stock in two years. Nova will also assume $60 million of Huntsman's debt. After the deal, Huntsman will become Nova's largest shareholder.

Mr. Huntsman expects the two companies to combine some purchasing operations and to seek ways to combine product lines and operations. His son, Jon M. Hunstman Jr., will sit on Nova's board.

More First Mentions Worth Mentioning...

Greatest Hits of 2007 (Walkman, Email, Jerry Seinfeld and more)
*
Greatest Hits of 2008 (Princess Diana, Personal Computer, John McCain and more)
*
See all the previous installments of The First Time News Was Fit To Print
*
November 3, 2007: Appearance on NPR Weekend Edition Saturday

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10 Headlines from 9/11/01

We spent the summer of 2001 chastising Gary Condit, mourning Mr. Belvedere, and pardoning Microsoft. But on the second Tuesday of September, a mere twenty months after widespread wisecracks about the world ending on Y2K, it felt like the world did. I've been reading through the online archives of The New York Times from September 11, 2001, to see what was in the news the morning of the attacks. Here are some of the headlines:

1. Taliban Suicide Bombers Target Deposed Afghan Leaders

"If the would-be assassins were indeed Arabs, as the United Front asserted, the fact would lend credibility to those who contend that foreigners, including Osama bin Laden, are playing an ever bigger decision-making role among the Taliban."

2. Washington: Rumsfeld Attacks Bureaucracy

"Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said that he was declaring war on bureaucracy in the Pentagon and that he wanted to combine some civilian and military staffs, cut duplication in the military services and shift some jobs to the private sector."

3. Senator Joe Biden attacks President Bush on Missile Defense

"Mr. Biden has fastened onto missile defense as the centerpiece of his critique of Bush foreign policy. In part, that is because the system is almost the sole focus of the administration's foreign policy... 'Are we willing to end four decades of arms control agreements, and go it alone, a kind of bully nation, sometimes a little wrongheaded, but ready to make unilateral decisions in what we perceive to be our self-interest?' Mr. Biden said in his speech at the National Press Club."

4. Michael Jordan to Unretire (Again)?

"Jordan is either getting ready to return to the N.B.A. at the age of 38 or he is setting up the sports world for a letdown of legendary proportion. Either way, the drama builds. Speaking with three reporters, Jordan said he was less than 10 days away from a news conference in Washington announcing his decision."

5. Grand Jury Declines Request For Inquiry into Condit Matter

"A grand jury has rejected a flight attendant's request that it investigate her complaint that Representative Gary A. Condit obstructed justice by asking her to sign an affidavit falsely stating that they did not have an affair....Anne Marie Smith, 40, said that she and Mr. Condit had a 10-month romance and that his intermediaries tried to get her to sign an affidavit denying the affair....Ms. Smith's link with Mr. Condit became public after the disappearance in Washington of Chandra Ann Levy, a 24-year-old government intern from Modesto, on May 1. Mr. Condit, 53, is not considered a suspect in the disappearance, but he acknowledged having had a relationship with Ms. Levy."

6. Mayoral Candidates Crisscross City Seeking Last Few Votes

"The six major candidates running to succeed Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani ranged across the city yesterday in the final burst of politicking before the polls open today. Dodging late summer downpours, the candidates hit neighborhoods where they thought they might be able to eek out just a few more votes. Crossing and crisscrossing the boroughs -- sometimes missing one anothers' campaigns by just minutes -- it seemed as though the six candidates were out to shake every hand in the city."

7. Broncos Win Game, Lose Receiver

"The New York Giants did not upset the festive Denver atmosphere as the Broncos christened their noisy new home with a loud and thorough 31-20 rout. The game's outcome seem to hinge on a gruesome injury to Denver's Pro Bowl wide receiver Ed McCaffrey, who broke his lower left leg early in the third quarter."

8. Disco Near Auschwitz to Close

"The owner of a building now used as a disco but once a tannery where Nazis sorted the luggage and clothes of Jews at Auschwitz said he would not renew the club's lease when it expires in November."

9. U.S. Blacklists Paramilitaries in Colombia

"Being put on the State Department list of terrorist groups means that financial support for the organization is illegal. The action also makes it easier for the United States to seize assets, an important factor because investigators here estimate that the paramilitary groups have hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign bank accounts."

10. Thomas Friedman on Terror in Israel

"You drive south...and there is another long concrete wall blocking snipers from hitting Gilo, but also sealing in Gilo. There are Hebrew posters all over this wall that read: 'The New Middle East.' Some Israeli coffee shops now have security guards at the door to deter suicide bombers."

See previous installments of 'The First Time News Was Fit To Print.'

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