Monday, 20 July 2009

How the Guardian missed one of the quotes of the 20th century two minutes

Fascinating letter in The Guardian today explaining why the paper's original coverage of the moon landing on July 17 1969 (reprinted in a special supplement) had no mention of Neil Armstrong's "One step for man..." quote.
It is from former Guardian sub Geoff Andrews, who writes: "Anyone reading the souvenir front-page of the moon landing may have wondered why there was no mention of Armstrong's famous first words.
"I was splash stone-sub on that night, back in hot metal days, which meant I was responsible for updating the front page with new copy as the story developed. Touchdown on the moon was well after our normal last edition time, so we were already into special editions, and working with the night editor Peter Large (watching a TV in a distant office).
"I had to say when to send the page to be cast for the final edition, balancing printing as much information as possible against the fact that, with the presses already rolling and most of the print run complete, the number of copies that would result was dwindling with each minute.
"But Armstrong stood on the bottom step of the ladder for an interminable time, and with the head printer fretting and swearing that there would be no copies left to print, we reluctantly had to let the page go to the foundry. Two minutes later we heard the immortal words, but by then the page forme was far too hot for anyone to work on it for another 20 minutes. Hence the missing words. To our chagrin other newspapers with a bigger print run managed an edition with the famous phrase. It still rankles."
Geoff 's letter is headlined 'One step for man...but not the Guardian.'

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