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Why Fractured America in 1968 Feels So Familiar Now

The New York Times revisited a tumultuous year via modern news alerts


Our country was bitterly divided the winter after the Summer of Love in 1967. In a recent New York Times multimedia story, “50 Years Later, It Still Feels Familiar,” journalists Jacey Fortin and Maggie Astor wrote evocatively:

“It was freezing on New Year’s Eve in Manhattan.

A fresh layer of snow blanketed the ground on the night of Dec. 31, 1967, and revelers in Times Square and Central Park seemed to look to the future with some hope. “World Bids Adieu to a Violent Year” was the Jan. 1 headline in The New York Times.

But 1968 would be tumultuous, too.”

Fifty years later, they wrote, the “moment feels familiar,” noting the protests against racial and economic inequality and the U.S. military fighting a “seemingly interminable” war. They noted that after two terms of a Democratic president, a Republican presidential candidate “campaigned on a promise of law and order, and won.”

News in 1968 was delivered on paper, television and radio, but this creatively-designed piece asked the question: What if they’d have had phones “vibrating with modern news alerts”?

Scroll through the story and experience the history through the kind of news alerts you receive on your phone, tablet and laptop.  Each news item links to the original story as it was printed in the Times in 1968.

By Shayla Thiel Stern
Shayla is the former Director of Editorial and Content for Next Avenue at Twin Cities PBS.@shayla_stern

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