Fact Check

Did a 1934 'Television Newspaper' Cartoon Predict Internet News?

In 2021, social media users enjoyed the apparent prescience of an 87-year-old cartoon.

Published Jun 14, 2021

 (Alex Tribune)
Image Via Alex Tribune
In 1934, a newspaper cartoon imagined online news consumption with a cartoon entitled "Television Newspaper."

In the summer of 2021, social media users enthusiastically shared what appeared to be a  near-century old cartoon that, amusingly, seemed to anticipate the era of internet news consumption with a sketch about a "television newspaper."

The cartoon showed a man and woman sitting in front of a large television screen that featured the front page of a newspaper, complete with the headline "Dirigible is Downed at Sea." The man muses "Hm — Twenty dead and fifteen missing!" and the caption at the bottom reads:

Television Newspaper

Some day you may be able to receive the front page of your morning newspaper this way — fully printed and shown on the screen of a television set. Can it be done?

The cartoon was entirely authentic and really did originate in 1934, as shown in these clippings. It came from the mind of Ray Gross, an American inventor, writer, and humorist, who created a series of cartoons under the title "Can it be done?" which was syndicated to newspapers across the United States in the 1930s and 1940s. 

Among the other suggestions that Gross included in his series were: an inflatable couch,automatic nail polisher, capless toothpaste tube and a cigarette dispenser. Simon & Schuster published a compendium of his would-be inventions in 1933 and in 1935. Vitaphone produced a pair of short films based on Gross' work, one of which can be viewed below:


Dan Mac Guill is a former writer for Snopes.

Read More

a Member

Your membership is the foundation of our sustainability and resilience.


Ad-Free Browsing on Snopes.com
Members-Only Newsletter
Cancel Anytime