Backstory10/29/2000 07:00:00 PM Eastern
CBS Radio sent millions of Americans into a panic when it aired Orson Welles' radio play ofThe War of the Worldson Oct. 30, 1938. And, according to the Nov. 15, 1938, issue of Broadcasting, once the frenzy died, most letters to newspapers expressed amazement at those who were duped, while the rest complained about the "shoddy programming."
Broadcasting also noted that CBS was criticized for using news techniques in a radio play, and critics said the hoax pointed to radio's weakness as a news source.
Broadcasting editorialized that newspapers hyped the controversy. And the magazine noted that few had mentioned that half the letters to the FCC praised the program.
But Broadcasting (and the FCC and news organizations) agreed that words like "flash" and "bulletin" should be restricted to real news.