Halloween conjures up memories of one of the spookiest events in broadcast history: Orson Welles’ radio dramatization of the War of the Worlds, which aired on Halloween eve in 1938. “No single program in American broadcasting has inspired more fear, controversy, and endless fascination,” writes W. Joseph Campbell, author of Getting It Wrong: Ten of the Greatest Misreported Stories in American Journalism.

In the video below, Campbell explains that the narrative that listeners by the tens, or even hundreds of thousands were gripped by mass panic, believing the Earth was under Martian attack, was largely a misrepresentation by the media. Campbell further describes his research and the motivations behind this media-driven myth in an interview with Big Think, noting that “[f]or newspapers, Welles’ radio spoof offered an irresistible opportunity to rebuke radio as an unreliable, untrustworthy, and immature medium.”

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