Thanks to Shortstuff for the inspiration!
many of the talking heads who now appear on various “news” shows,
Edward R. Murrow was a journalist with integrity who not only fought for free
speech, but for TRUTH in journalism as well.
once said at the RTNDA Convention in Chicago in 1958 to a group of fellow
journalists: “It is not
necessary to remind you that the fact that your voice is amplified to the
degree where it reaches from one end of the country to the other does not
confer upon you greater wisdom or understanding than you possessed when
your voice reached only from one end of the bar to the other. All of these
things you know.”
are some who sit in those seats today who would do well to pay attention to
I am certainly not the writer that Murrow was, I know good writing, and
profound thought, when I study it. I also remember someone once saying
something along the lines of “those who
don’t study history are destined to repeat it.”
Murrow quotes to ponder below:
“I am seized with an abiding fear regarding
what these two instruments (radio and television) are doing to our society, our
culture and our heritage.”
“I have reason to know, as do many of you, that when the
evidence on a controversial subject is fairly and calmly presented, the public
recognizes it for what it is–an effort to illuminate rather than to
“If (radio) news is to be regarded as a commodity,
only acceptable when saleable, then I don’t care what you call it–I say it
“Upon occasion, economics and editorial judgment are in conflict.
And there is no law which says that dollars will be defeated by duty. “
“I am frightened by the imbalance, the constant striving to reach
the largest possible audience for everything; by the absence of a sustained
study of the state of the nation.”
“This nation is now in competition with malignant forces of evil
who are using every instrument at their command to empty the minds of their
subjects and fill those minds with slogans, determination and faith in the
future. If we go on as we are, we are protecting the mind of the American
public from any real contact with the menacing world that squeezes in upon
“Unless we get up off our fat surpluses and recognize that
television in the main is being used to distract, delude, amuse and insulate
us, then television and those who finance it, those who look at it and those
who work at it, may see a totally different picture too late.”
“The speed of communications is wondrous to behold. It is also true that
speed can multiply the distribution of information that we know to be
“We hardly need to be reminded that we
are living in an age of confusion — a lot of us have traded in our beliefs for
bitterness and cynicism or for a heavy package of despair, or even a quivering
portion of hysteria. Opinions can be picked up cheap in the market place while
such commodities as courage and fortitude and faith are in alarmingly short
“There is a mental fear, which provokes
others of us to see the images of witches in a neighbor’s yard and stampedes us
to burn down this house. And there is a creeping fear of doubt, doubt of what
we have been taught, of the validity of so many things we had long since taken
for granted to be durable and unchanging. It has become more difficult than
ever to distinguish black from white, good from evil, right from wrong.”
journalists held him in high esteem.
What separated Murrow from the pack was courage. Dan Rather
Last week may be remembered as the week that
broadcasting recaptured its soul. Jack Gould, TV
critic for The New York Times after Murrow’s See It
Now broadcast of 9 March 1954
He set standards of excellence that remain
on a plaque dedicated to Murrow in the lobby of CBS headquarters in New York
He was a resolute and uncompromising man of
truth. CBS Chairman
William Paley, in his eulogy of Murrow
Today’s televangelical charletans (and dropout
empty-headed political celebrities) with their false emotions and desire to
foment fear, acrimony and partisan dissent nationwide do not serve us well, and
distract us from the business of being a prosperous and successful nation, for
all of its citizens.
One can only imagine what Murrow would have had
to say about today’s unreal “reality” shows and the likes of those who daily opine with no research or truth behind their statements.
It’s past time for broadcasting and journalism
to recapture its soul, don’t you think?
politicians are another story.
Good night, and good luck, as he would say.