Edward R. Murrow a veteran broadcaster delivered his famous speech titled Wires and lights in a box before an audience who had attended the RTDNA (then referred as RTNDA) convention on October 15, 1958.
According to him, the speech was not of much importance, and after he would be through with the speech, most would point fingers at him as to some he would be going beyond the limits or rather the organization rendered of welcoming dangerous thoughts. He was convinced though that it would not alter the structure of networks, advertising agencies, and sponsors. He felt a push within him to expose or rather explain what went on in the radio and television. He did note some issues faced by those working in the industry
His delivering the speech was not because he was doing his duties as an employee of the Columbia Broadcasting System hence he was to be held responsible for any word uttered but still he points out the fear creeping because of what the two instruments were instilling in the society, culture, and heritage.
He stated that our history depends on what we make it and that historians if any, some years down the line will find information recorded in whichever form and have it as evidence of decay, escapism, and insulation from the world in which we live. He went ahead to point out a survey done on programs aired between 8 and 11 pm Eastern time you only find fleeting and spasmodic referencing the country is at stake notwithstanding to the fact that occasionally there are informative programs in the intellectual ghetto on Sunday afternoons while during daily peaks viewing periods, television mainly drifts us away from the real world and its realities, and if that continues, the slogan may be altered to read: LOOK NOW AND PAY LATER and the consequences surely felt. Hence, something has to be done to shield the sensitive citizen from anything that could be unpleasant.
His opinion stands that the American public is more reasonable, restrained and more mature than most industrys planners could think. Their insecurity when it comes to controversy is not warranted by the evidence. They had once undertaken a to do program in Egypt and Israel and seemed like something not to venture in as it was considered dangerous, but at the end of it, all the information was there. They had the same experience on a program dealing with cigarette smoking and lung cancer. Despite the medical profession and tobacco industry cooperating, it still clearly indicated timidity in these areas is not warranted by the evidence.
At a point, spokespersons were disposed to complain that professional critics of television in print have been beastly and he does not defend them. However, for a fact, the newspapers and magazines remain to be the only instruments of mass communication to be free from critics. He thus challenges the spokespersons who feel agitated by what is in print to then also critic the newspapers and magazines.
The networks always have a reason for timidity is their youth. The spokespersons say, We are young, we have not developed the traditions nor acquired the experience of the media. Without their knowledge, they build those traditions each day and will not escape its effect.
To him, there is no better place illustrated than by the fact the Federal Communication Commission publicly encourages broadcasters to engage in editing which is their legal right. For the process to be a success, a network or station is to be held accountable. However, the workforce can be deployed to undertake this process. When it comes to profits, the editorials are not profitable. Hence, the use of television would be the way to go as there is the illusion of power without accountability.
Radio despite being unfashionable its rewarding, and a question was posed to a network official why this great rush of five-minute news reports (including their commercials) on weekends? And his reply was, because that seems the only thing we can sell and the only man bold enough to question was Elmer Davis.
One of the shortcomings of the television news and network is the inability to defend their interest an example is CBS and other networks how they went silent when Nikita Khushchev questioned on the president making utterances that seemed not in place and many others like John Foster Dilles gave an explanation to the ban of American journalists going to communist China thus pointing out on how British and French allies have their public interests served by useful information from reporters in Communist China.
The two instruments have matured to an incompatible combination of show business, advertising and news. At times, the public interest and corporate interest collide where a call or a letter from Washington is treated with urgency than a message from an ordinary person. For instance, the delay of broadcast by CBC and NBC seems irrational for people who love, respect and understand the news.
He also points out that it is not importantly necessary to have to increase profit every year notwithstanding that they engage in charity programs while at times the public facilities are abused. He was frightened by the strive to achieve a large audience for everything preceding the study of the state of the nation. Pointing out Heywood Broun saying No body politic is healthy it begins to itch The heads of networks control what appears on their networks ensuring its what could make them earn from the public market.
Edward does not believe the chairpersons of boards of the big corporations will seat down as their organizations go down hence the employees have to deliver yet the competition is tight. He thinks it should not always be about advertisement but ideas from the public should be welcomed by creating a platform for that, and it becomes more of an educative process. If all networks adopted these, then there would be competition on presentation of information, and this would provide a space for young men of skill do something away from insults as a means of selling.
To an extent, the communication is done through mass media talks more of the political, economic and social climate of the growth of a country. He advocates the yielding unrealities of the world in which we live.
Perhaps, no one will try to change the situation at hand, but according to him the television and radio or the corporations that invest in the programs give their viewers a good deal. He states we are imitative and if some corporations take the lead on the suggested lines then the people will be enlightened.
If given a thought, it might not work, but there will be nothing to lose. These instruments can be educative but if only there is determination, without which it is wires and lights in a box.
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