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I remember the launch of Apollo 7 - the first crewed flight of the Apollo spacecraft. I was in grade school; we all gathered in the gym/auditorium to watch it on live TV. I was about 9 in 1967, and had an interest in space and space flight, yet totally unaware of the preceding unmanned Apollo launches until decades later. Of course I remember the live coverage of the Apollo 11 launch, lunar touchdown, and Neil Armstrong's "small step". It appears that Apollo 4 and 6 (un-crewed first and second flights of Apollo/Saturn) launched at 7am ET on their respective dates; not ideal for live coverage, but still presumably newsworthy.

I am a bit surprised at the level of media coverage of the upcoming Artemis mission, given that the real "big deal" would be the first crewed flight. Did I just miss all the coverage that the un-manned Apollos got perhaps because it wasn't live (or covered live at less-than ideal times), or is Artemis attracting more media coverage today than the early Apollos received in their day?

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    $\begingroup$ The media landscape is enormously different now. I haven't watched network news on TV in a decade. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 28, 2022 at 14:29
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    $\begingroup$ Here's the live CBS News coverage of the launch of Apollo 4: youtube.com/watch?v=1uoVfZpx5dY . NBC News : youtube.com/watch?v=4WYQcpKRaAY . So yes, it was covered on broadcast media, and live. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 28, 2022 at 15:53
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    $\begingroup$ You could not compare the first manned flight of a Moon rocket over 50 years ago to the first unmanned Artemis flight now. Very different media landscape and very different society. $\endgroup$
    – Uwe
    Commented Aug 28, 2022 at 16:29
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    $\begingroup$ For the artemis flight, the control room staff is dressing up in white long sleeve dress shirts with dark ties just for nostalgia to apollo flights. $\endgroup$
    – tckosvic
    Commented Aug 28, 2022 at 21:10
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    $\begingroup$ @Uwe Of course you can compare them, that's the point of the question. What you can't do is assume they "should" be the same, and the questioner clearly isn't. The differences you allude to are just the sort of things a good answer to this question should include. $\endgroup$
    – TypeIA
    Commented Aug 29, 2022 at 13:54

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There is a big difference in how news is marketed today compared with the old days.

Back in the day, news stories were chosen by Networks. Because there were a small number of Networks, the range of news stories was narrow. The financial incentive was to please advertisers by keeping viewership high. Viewer allegiances were “sticky”. It’s 6:00pm? That was Walter Cronkite time in my house. Unlikely anyone would change the channel. I mean, you had to stand up and walk to the TV to do that.

Nowadays, the majority of citizens get their daily news from social media. They do not usually choose the news provider… it is chosen by the social media platform. Most people have no idea the source of the news article they clicked on. The social media's incentive is to provide click bait which entice viewers to click through to the next page with a new set of ads, hence a new flow of revenue from each advertiser. The social media platform uses information they have on your preferences to guess what story will most likely get your “click”. They present customized versions of each chunk of “bait”, changing the newscaster’s gender, race and age to comply what they know about you. And they choose stories they know would interest you based on your search history and those of your friends. The choice was made in milliseconds. The guy sitting next to you in Starbucks likely was offered a different chunk of clickbait by the same social media platform.

This strategy results in “echo chambers” where people’s beliefs, and those of their social group, are reinforced. The fact you are seeing news stories about SLS may have something to do with “targeted market profiling” which was not available in the Apollo era. Of the following world circulation newspapers: Aljazeera, The Guardian, The Times of Israel, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, none had a story on SLS as a “front page” story in today’s US News section. However, if I ask Google for news, the top story offered is SLS. Google knows who I am and what my interests are.

So, to answer your question “… is Artemis attracting more media coverage today than early Apollo…?” I would question the assumption behind your question. There is a much larger volume of news stories, but they are much more narrowly targeted. What one person sees is more a function of that person’s marketable attributes than total news volume.

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    $\begingroup$ "In 1956, Robert Adler developed[18] "Zenith Space Command,"[13] a wireless remote.[19] It was mechanical and used ultrasound to change the channel and volume.[20] When the user pushed a button on the remote control, it struck a bar and clicked, hence they were commonly called a "clicker," but it sounded like a "clink" and the mechanics were similar to a pluck.[21] Each of the four bars emitted a different fundamental frequency with ultrasonic harmonics, and circuits in the television detected these sounds and interpreted them as channel-up, channel-down, sound-on/off, and power-on/off. $\endgroup$
    – Uwe
    Commented Aug 28, 2022 at 22:17
  • $\begingroup$ Remote control for TV receivers did exist in the mid sixties. They were introduced a decade before. $\endgroup$
    – Uwe
    Commented Aug 28, 2022 at 22:19
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    $\begingroup$ "You had a channel changer? Luxury! When I was young, we put old Christmas cards in the back of a box and pretended it was a TV. " "You had a cardboard box? Luxury! Why, when I was young... " -Two Yorkshiremen $\endgroup$
    – Woody
    Commented Aug 28, 2022 at 22:38
  • $\begingroup$ My buddy (who wasn't as poor as us) had one of those ultrasonic clickers. For laughs, we used to jangle car keys and watch the channels scramble to keep up. $\endgroup$
    – Woody
    Commented Aug 28, 2022 at 22:40
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    $\begingroup$ @gerrit ... Apparently it varies considerably around the world. "In 2019, the Pew Research Center found that over half of Americans (54%) either got their news "sometimes" or "often" from social media, and Facebook was the most popular social media site where American adults got their news." and "over 70% of adult participants from Kenya, South Africa, Chile, Bulgaria, Greece, and Argentina utilized social media for news ." en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_media_as_a_news_source $\endgroup$
    – Woody
    Commented Aug 29, 2022 at 15:15
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I would argue that press coverage is greater for Artemis vs Apollo simply because there are far more news sources both in tradition media as well as in social media and the immediacy today is much more potent than it was in the 1960s. Back then you probably would have been limited to your local newspaper as well as four major television networks (CBS, NBC, ABC and PBS affiliates) and their radio counterparts, with 30 or so minute news segments at 6:00 and 11:00 pm and information on launches were mixed in with other national events of the era, local news, sports and the weather. These were the only outlets for immediate news on the launches. These networks would only cover very significant live events ie launches or the Apollo 11 lunar landing, but the majority of what was happening with space launches was edited out for time constraints and other network programming. There were also weekly periodicals eg Time, Life, etc. but they really did not provide instant news and were better suited toward more in-depth examinations of current events like space travel.

Today there are multiple 24 hour cable news networks, hundreds of news website, and thousands upon thousands of social media and special interest internet channels where you can get pretty much any publicly available date on the launches with a few taps on a smartphone or clicks on a keyboard. Even NASA livestreams these events to anyone who is interested in them.

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I think you just missed the earlier launches because of the time of day. Here is the live CBS coverage of the Apollo 4 launch:

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You have to keep in mind how much less media there was back then. Even just one network covering it would amount to a large fraction of all the screens in use at that time.

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