While watching a news story build up I tend to use Twitter, the BBC News website and so on. Back in 1912 when the Titanic struck an iceberg it was the newspapers which gave the news. The Daily newspapers were especially good, as the details of one story could build up over several days as the news developed.
While creating metadata for the Cambria Daily Leader I came across this page from Monday the 15th of April 1912 details that a disaster had befallen the Titanic, it had struck an iceberg. However it goes on to say that “All aboard taken off safely” it details the various stories floating around from wireless messages stating that most passengers had been put into lifeboats and were safe, to a message from White Star officials detailing how the “Virgina standing by” and there was “No danger to loss of life.”
However as we all know the loss of life was phenomenal. The Titanic being one of the worst maritime disasters of all time (during peacetime), and perhaps the most famous. Even today less than a year after the sinking of the Costa Concordia off the western coast of Italy, while a disaster on a much smaller scale, it is the sinking of the Titanic over a century ago now that everyone remembers.
But as I said the newspapers were phenomenal with the information they gave out, the sinking of the Titanic may have resulted in no loss of life according to the news given out of the 15th of April, however by the 16th it was all change. The Cambria Daily Leader reported an “Unprecedented Catastrophe,” the “feared loss of 1,500 lives.” It notes that 868 are safe “mostly women and children” however it is still too soon for any real details as the ships are outside the wireless zones. There is also some hope that the Virginian and Parisian will be in touch with news that they as well as the Carpathian would have passengers on board.
The next day more news again about the sinking of the Titanic and the next and the next. In fact more and more news filters in over the next few days including the news that the Carpathian is the only vessel carrying survivors. How the number of survivors on board the Carpathia was less than previously thought at 705 and the beginnings of the recovery of dead bodies. The Cambria Daily News of April 18th 1912 details the whole story on the first, fifth and eighth page of the newspaper.