It's hard to imagine a world where you don't get news 24 hours a day. To take a personal example: The husband of a friend of mine, who serves in the Army, had his scheduled stateside R&R delayed because of the conflict in Libya. He wasn't allowed to contact her for days, and she didn't know when to expect him at the airport in Charlotte. The lack of knowledge was excruciating—partly because we are all used to getting news when we want it, how we want it.
My friend was still far better off than her counterparts in the 1860s, who would have been lucky to get any news at all. At the time of the Civil War, which commenced 150 years ago this month, communication technology was still being developed, and the telegraph was the fastest way to spread news among different areas of the United States. The steam-powered printing press also gave Americans access to the war on an industrial scale. In a lecture today, UNC professor Eliza Richards discusses how journalism of that era changed America's perceptions of the war, and how it revolutionized the news industry. The free talk begins at 2 p.m.—Lauren Shute