Friday, April 26, 2019

A to Z Challenge - W for Wires

Theme - Journalism jargons
Wires or wire service or newswire is a synonym for news agencies. They are news organizations (like Reuters, Associated Press etc) that gather news, prepare news stories, have them edited, and distribute them to multiple newspapers, radio and television stations (like NYT, Fox News, BBC etc)

We say, "It's on the wires," to mean the news agencies have put out the story.  Wire stories have very matter-of-fact reporting, without much contextualising or interpretations, which are done by the newspapers and TV channels.


The wires are very important because it's practically impossible for all newspapers in the world to have their own reporters in all corners of the world. News agencies have a wide network of their own reporters or they have partnerships with local and regional news agencies.

So, if there is an important news break in any part of the world, the newsroom is alerted by a single-line cryptic message on the wires.


In the world famous announcement on November 23, 1963, on CBS Television of the news of John F Kennedy's assassination, the renowned news anchor Walter Cronkite (one of my idols) makes references to news agencies like Press Service and United Press International and reads out details of the incident as they trickled into the newsroom. Cronkite also shows on camera a photograph (an unclear shot) of the incident "transmitted by a wire". 

In the Netflix series "The Crown" (on the life of Queen Elizabeth II), in the second episode, 'The Hyde Park Corner', Prime Minister Winston Churchill makes a reference to "the wires". That is when King George VI dies while his daughter Elizabeth and husband are in Kenya and Churchill asks the royal officials, "Has the Princess been notified?" One of the officials says, "My understand is not". Then Churchill says, "Then I suggest we do so before it breaks on the wires."

(This post is a part of the "Blogging from A to Z Challenge April 2019".)


  1. Information gets around easier nowadays, but those wires were important back in the day. Still are.

  2. Hi Pradeep ... interesting to read about - but it was surprising how quickly news travelled even then. Cheers Hilary

  3. Hi Liz - You are right. Still, the first trusted source of information is the wires. A number of people (not just journalists) follow the Twitter feed of news agencies.

    Hi Hilary - Yes, even in those days, radio transmitted news far and wide very fast.