Covering Chaos

All Exhibits


Reporters following President John F. Kennedy's trip to Texas expected to cover a routine political event in Dallas on November 22, 1963. No one expected the day to lead to catastrophe when the Kennedy motorcade passed through Dealey Plaza. The moment the shots were fired, journalists suddenly found themselves in the vortex of an unfolding news story. The assassination of President Kennedy was big, breaking news—and it was the responsibility of the reporters to cover the chaos. As the story developed, the men and women of the media disseminated the information as it was gathered, marking a turning point in the way Americans received their news.

Covering Chaos explores the challenges faced by reporters covering the Kennedy assassination story in Dallas. To adequately follow the narrative of the four days of continuous news coverage (November 22 – November 25, 1963), the exhibition makes use of historic footage, photographs, artifacts and highlights of the Museum's Oral History Collection.

Featuring two videos specifically designed for this exhibition, Covering Chaos gives a voice to the more than 300 reporters present in Dallas in 1963. Among the journalists highlighted are Peter Jennings, Dan Rather, Bob Schieffer, Robert MacNeil and Jim Lehrer. Another segment compares the technologies available in 1963 with those of today, helping visitors visualize the amazing feats that these journalists undertook, with large, bulky equipment that needed time to warm up. Several forms of media—wire, print, radio, and television—are also explored with their finished products featured prominently in the exhibition.