Message from...’68: The News, the Stories, the Photographs

By International Herald Tribune


Perspectives from the International Herald Tribune

Technology is today so advanced that any flight of fancy can be created in a photograph or on film. Seamless global communications and blanket television ownership coupled with the recent explosion in 24 hour news channels – not to mention the internet – have dramatically changed the way people consume news, now readily available to almost everyone at the touch of a button. So it is easy to forget that only 40 years ago daily newspapers – and news programmes – were hotly anticipated because they provided a window onto what was happening in the world.

An independent observer of global affairs, the International Herald Tribune (IHT) recorded the events of 1968. From its balanced, informed perspective, it addressed all areas of human interest and distributed its reports to people in all corners of the globe. Although the world was gripped by the spirit of rebellion in 1968 as ordinary people fought for their voices to be heard, the spontaneous revolutions that took place each happened for very different reasons. News reports of one event gave inspiration and impetus to the next. Martin Luther King’s assassination sparked riots and the day of violence he had predicted spread to 120 American cities. Dissatisfaction in France expressed through riots was in part in imitation of radical students in Berlin, Rome and Berkeley. The fact that the police stepped in to quell the demonstrations attracted the media. The Paris-based IHT was on hand to collect the stories and make them available to the world.

Consequently 1968 offered photo journalists a rich source of materials. The year produced some of the most memorable examples ever of photo journalism in action. Award-winning images of the brutal killings during the Vietnam War and of dead American soldiers helped bring home the reality of the war. Intimidating photographs of armed Black Panthers illustrated the drastic reactions of people who suffered profound inequality and discontent. These images gave the IHT some striking front pages.

Photographs also united people in joy and wonderment. In 1968 pictures of planet earth were taken for the first time and shown on the front page of the IHT, delighting its readers.

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As part of the All Power to the Imagination!, and to celebrate the enduring popularity of newspapers, the IHT is holding an exhibition – ’68: the news, the stories, the photographs – at London’s National Theatre from 1st May. It will also host a discussion on photo-journalism in 1968 and its ongoing legacy. (