The Media, NASA, and the Contractors - Telling Apollo's Story

Walter Cronkite's coverage of the historic flight of Apollo 8 -- the first manned flight to the moon -- on December 21, 1968 on CBS News is a showcase of how the media, NASA, and NASA's contractors worked together to "tell the story" to the American public and the world about the Apollo program. When you watch the above clip, note the extended amount of coverage versus today's more "sound byte" world, as well as the amount of time Cronkite spends educating the audience about what they are about to witness and see. NASA did not have a huge media machine to create this kind of outreach, and leveraged the world's journalists to tell their story -- journalists who were hungry for information about Apollo because of its drama and newsworthiness and the hunger of their audiences for experiencing the historic events in real-time. NASA public affairs (and the contractor marketing and PR folks) spent a lot of time educating the journalists, so the journalists could educate the public. Also notice the use of models and props, many of which were created by the very same contractors who supplied materials to NASA. As the rocket launches and ascends into space, Cronkite and his CBS crew switch over to animation slides and stills to approximate the activities that their cameras could not see. We also want you to particularly pay attention to the similes used by Cronkite to get across to the public the magnitude of the mission, the machines, and what they are about to witness.

Posted on February 13, 2014 .