In the moments after the shooting, WFAA’s Bill Lord filed reports via telephone from Police Headquarters, adjacent to the scene. On a studio panel that evening, Lord estimates he counted twenty reporters at the police station at 2 p.m. and ten times as many two hours later. There would be more.
Reporters from every medium descend on Dallas in the hours following the assassination. They travel from from Houston, Oklahoma, Chicago, Los Angeles and, New York.
And Canada and England and France.
They represent magazines, newspapers, radio stations and, television. The networks had correspondents assigned to the trip, of course, and relied on their local stations but the immediate instinct was to send more.
In Toronto, a young Canadian Television reporter tries to convince his bosses he should cover the story and fly to Dallas. When his pitch is denied, he travels on his own. His name is Peter Jennings.
Lee Oswald, so far charged with the murder of Officer Tippit, is held on the fifth floor of the police headquarters in the Dallas Municipal Building. Robbery, homicide and other departments are on the third floor. It is there the hallway is elbow to elbow with reporters. TV takes up the most room. Power cables for cameras, lights and microphones and broadcast ephemera snake up the exterior of the Dallas Municipal Building, through windows and down the hall of the third floor.
Police Chief Jesse Curry and Dallas County District Attorney Henry Wade are subjected to an impromptu press conference each time they enter the hall. Chief Curry announces Oswald has been charged with the murder of the President. As District Attorney Wade attempts to answer one question, another reporter and; another interrupt. “Are you gonna bring him out?” Can you get a room where we can get a picture of him?” Can we get a press conference where he could stand against a wall?”
When Lieutenant J.C. Day brings the rifle from the evidence lab and walks down the third floor, he holds it high above his head to provide a clear look. The effect is a display of a grotesque trophy.
From Washington, David Brinkley summed up the day by “About all that could happen has happened. It is one of the ugliest days in American history. There is seldom any time to think anymore, and today there was none. In about four hours we had gone from President Kennedy in Dallas, alive, to back in Washington, dead and a new president in his place. There is really no more to say except it has been too much, too ugly and too fast.”
NBC signed off at 1:02 a.m.