Yesterday was the 34th anniversary of the first broadcast of a new cable television channel known as the Cable News Network, or CNN. It was just a couple of weeks before I graduated from high school, on June 1, 1980, that the world’s first 24-hour television news network made its debut when it signed on at 6 p.m. EST from its headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia.

A novel concept when it began, CNN went on to change the notion that news could only be reported at fixed times throughout the day. At the time of CNN’s launch, TV news was dominated by three major broadcast networks – ABC, CBS and NBC – and their nightly 30-minute broadcasts. Walter Chronkite was dominating the news as the anchor of the CBS Evening News, with Frank Reynolds as the news anchor for ABC News, and John Chancellor at the helm at the NBC Nightly News.

In recognition of the anniversary of what has now come to be known as “the other news network,” I rode to CNN’s bureau offices in northeast D.C. at 820 1st Street (MAP). In the courtyard of the CNN Building I was treated to a party, including a live band.

Looking back, the same month that CNN began broadcasting, the biggest stories were that President Jimmy Carter won enough delegates for renomination to run against Ronald Reagan in the presidential election that fall; comedian Richard Pryor suffered burns from free basing cocaine; the United States revived draft registration; two years before his beginning on late night television, the “David Letterman Show” debuted on daytime TV, and; the United Nations Security Council called for South Africa to free Nelson Mandela.  This all goes to show that the events in the world that are being reported have changed a lot in the past 34 years.  And thanks to CNN, so has the way news is reported.

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