When the New York Times first launched in 1851, photography was still in its infancy, with daguerreotypes the primary medium of the era — but as the camera evolved, so did the newspaper. Josh Begley, a self-described “data artist” and app developer, recently put every front page image from the New York Times into a one-minute video. As the pages fly by, the changes are largely influenced by photography.
The first front pages were all text — images didn’t pop up (at least not on the front page) until after the Times’ first 50 years, in 1910. Still, the front page image that now dominates every newspaper layout didn’t become standard until a few years later. After the 35mm Leica is launched in 1926, photojournalism continues to grow as publications gained access to portable cameras. That same year, the first image that was sent by radio to the Times from London was printed on the front page, hailed for the technological possibility of sending an image quickly around the world.
Colored ink became part of the Times print runs in 1997.
As decades pass by in seconds, it’s easy to see the way the layouts of newspaper changed over the years. After images start popping up, multiple photographs became the norm above and below the fold, and photographs grew in their size and prominent placement at the front.
While the photographs are the most obvious change as nearly 166 years of daily newspapers are crammed into one minute, other subtleties flash by in this impressive visual history. The paper went from eight narrow columns to six in the mid-seventies. In 1978, the publication moved from traditional linotype printing to type set by computers. And in 1953, when photo engravers went on strike, the Times went unpublished.
Begley’s latest video impressively puts years of photojournalism history on the screen over the span of just 60 seconds. His previous work has ranged from projects honoring historical figures including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Toni Morrison, to a satire on crowdfunding, collections of images from aerial prison photos, and NYPD surveillance images.
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