Proper black & white images were until recently preferred by the print media to colour images as colour reduced to black & white tends to come out rather smudgy, like the non-grayscaled images on that page (nowadays, everything is just printed in colour anyway so it's no longer an issue). B/w film processing was more expensive than colour (it used silver, apparently) so apart from professionals and artistry type photography (such as the Wad & Clare pics), everyone by '77 used colour.
It's not just the (silver based) processing, it's the way the camera is configured before the imagery is taken. A badly taken photograph will always be smudgy (vis: out of focus, bad depth of field, poor tonal qualities) but you're right in so much as people are seduced by colour and don't notice the other stuff until the colour is stripped away. (You can always tell a mediocre photographer by photocopying a picture of theirs and see what tonal change there is, or isn't as the case may be).
Our photography department still teaches silver based processing to everyone from A level students to undergraduate, I'm proud to say. Mind you, we do have a couple of medium format cameras with digital backs and the quality is jaw dropping.