News in 20th Century America; 19; Comp & Change #1
The following program was produced and recorded by the University of Michigan Broadcasting Service undergrad in aid from the Educational Television and Radio Center in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasters news in 20th century America. A series of radio documents on the gathering writing and dissemination of news compiled from interviews with men and women who make news their business. No no one of them is sufficient in fact I am very strong on this point of having been in several of these fields. I'm I'm awfully sure I'm I'm I'm right about this that each one feeds the other that as well as television develops. It's even going to help radio over the long haul as radio and television have developed they certainly helped the book and magazine business in so far as making the public more aware and more conscious of more things and more different ways the voices that have Quincy hoe news analyst for the American Broadcasting Company one of the people whom you will hear today speaking about the news media competition and change.
This is the first of four programs on the subject to be heard on news in 20th century America. Now here is your host Glenn Philips. Most of us tend to take newspapers and news magazines for granted or as long as we can remember they have been our principal source of news about our government about the activities of other nations about our neighbors down the block. Many of us within our lifetimes have seen the advent of radio as a means for news dissemination. All of us have observed the growth of television as a powerful means of communication. How have these various media affected each other. Do they compete with each other or do they complement one another. The people you will hear with Mr. Howe are John Daly vice president in charge of news and special events at the American Broadcasting Company. Martin a grand scale Washington reporter for The National Broadcasting Corporation. Eric Sevareid chief of Columbia Broadcasting Systems Washington bureau and Fulton Lewis Jr. columnist and news
analyst for the Mutual Broadcasting System. One thing about this group of men is that all of had distinguished careers in more than one of the news media. We ask Mr. Daley what the different media do that is unique and whether it was doing its job adequately. This was his answer. Yes I think so. The newspaper of course is the traditional medium of communication. It went through. Long periods of trial error and testing and you finally come to the ambition and the will to be first with the story on the street and to give the fullest possible coverage to any major story. I sometimes think even at this late date they overdo it on occasion. When you have a big story or just spread reporters off on every single facet up to and including the color of the disciplines left eyebrow as compared with the right eye brow radio
broad sense of immediate participation in news as it was happening the more so as tape was developed and it was possible to process it and use it intelligently very quickly. Television has come forth now and I think beyond cavil has an impact upon the public which is superior to either the old written medium or the radio medium which is purely audio. Television has not yet come to the day when it has fulfilled all of the great promise that it brings to the field of music. But with the development of video tape. It will not be very long before we can be as immediate as radio has been for a great many years and we will come. To this immediacy with this additional facet of presentation which is the visual. And we will be able to bring immediately a greater understanding of the ME and the main
points of any news story. We will be able immediately to give a closer identification between principles in news stories whether they be in the high realms of statehood and politics or in the lower realms of local scandals and the public. And this identification will I think clarify very quickly in the public mind a great deal about the story which they're interested in which they're interested. There's no question in my mind although you hear a great deal of theory about the ability of the charlatan to use this new medium to confuse the public and us to perpetrate fraud and hoax of all kinds there's no question in my mind that fundamentally accepting that there will always be the exception to the rule. The television will do more to strip away from the great public issues. The sub diffusion the the hoax and the delusion and the illusion which can be created by the judicious. If you
insert press releases in the. Or a timed utterance of pious phraseology. Because in television if you try the Oregon buyers phrases somehow or the other with the face on the screen it just doesn't it doesn't work it might work for a little while but then it will give itself away. So I think that these media are all complementary one to the other. I've always felt and I feel very strongly that the newspapers in the first days of radio when they animosity were so rigid that they cut off the new services and we had to start our own that the news fraternity the written medium. Discovered its mistake and I think there are very few sensible men working in the Press Association in news field today newspaper field today who will not accept that actually radio did a great deal to broaden the base of public interest in new ways to stimulate the public interest in the newspaper with particular reference to those areas of the newspaper not confined to sports results comics and feature stories.
We in radio and television must always be complementary to the written medium because it is the issue of record. We can create the area of interest. But the public will always have to have its newspaper won to get more detail very often on major stories too. To go back and recapture detail which has come very quickly to them through radio or television about which they want to be sure about which they feel they need to get more information so that we each have a great job to do but at the same time radio I think did a great deal. To broaden the base. By which the public could be informed and to broaden the base of public interest. Television now brings this same quality which radio brought in its day when the written medium was all that existed and that the end result for all of us has got to be a happy one for the public certainly it's going to be a happy one for those of us who are interested in informing the public and keeping the public informed. We should be happy to.
Both Lewis Jr. spoke to us of the impact of television on the older media and his reasons for feeling that no one medium conflicted with another. I don't think there's been any effect at all. On. Radio or newspaper news. On the medium media. As such. Newspapers radio as such TV effect on them. Has been ill in the case of the newspapers. Because newspapers are not competitive. In their purchase or in their reading. With television viewing radio has suffered to some degree by the computation of entertainment TV viewing in broaching upon the. Radio audience a radio news audience. There have been one additional.
Press we better make three. There is one failing which TV unquestionably is the radio or the newspaper is not is the on the same coverage of sports events conventions and things of that kind. Manifestly. Way way out in front of either newspapers or radio for the front of the newspapers in front of radio. I do not believe. That. Radio television. Will ever be able. To. Even make any encroachments. Upon radio or newspapers. As a straight. News fear the straight news feed or even in commentary the reason for that is. The value of TV. The reason for that is that the
value of the economics of TV. Inherently are such that. Either. That or that the addition of the costly edition of THE VIDEO TO VOICE. Must sufficiently improve the transmission of human throat thought from one mind to another. To justify itself. The addition of the video is very costly. Now if as in the case of a football game or the international stakes this does enhance which is unquestionably does. Then it becomes economic to do. In the case of entertainment Such is the Lone Ranger or I Love Lucy Coachy piece. The video adds but in the case of a guy sitting down at a desk with a checker copy. Reading the copy
over there reading the copy over the TV. Not only does it not improve the transmissibility of thought but it greatly detracts from it because you are using two senses. Instead of one. Your ear is not concentrating on what you hear. You're likely to be distracted by the wart on his nose or by the fact is that guy reading from a teleprompter reading from the sheets of paper in front of him and what not brings a vast reservoir of knowledge and experience to his profession as a news analyst. We ask him to compare the various news media particularly at the management level. While I'm there I do think I speak with some with some knowledge. I used to be in the magazine business and I've been in the book business now both those businesses. I haven't been in newspapers but I think it would apply equally there. Magazines books newspapers have been published for centuries. There is a long tradition of professional performance
professional achievement professional pride. There is also a long experience in doing a certain kind of job which has been as I say develop over literally generations. The radio and television industries have come up so fast it's utterly impossible for the people who manage those industries to have the same experience the same feeling the same background of their own professional skill of their own professional obligations and opportunities as would be the case in magazines books and newspapers which have been operated for generations so that the whole tradition grows up and that is an extremely important thing that's hard to measure and weigh but anyone who was work as I have and many other people and also have done the same thing going from one of these all the media to it to the newer ones struck right away by the far greater competence to my way of thinking a far greater competence
in in the operation of their function. That you will find in books magazines and newspapers as compared with radio and television and that is not casting any aspersions at any individual in radio or television it's not because that dumb they may be much smarter. They have to be exceedingly smart and still they're going to make an awful lot of mistakes because the field is so new so many experiments are naturally invited. Then something works quite quickly it's a new medium and the novelty of it alone makes it appealing so something catches on and so they think it must be pretty good and they'll stay along with it and perhaps won't do further experiments because the very first one has paid off quite quite rapidly and I think that's why you've seen for instance in television these. These days trends told to Weston's one year comedians another and so on. And then it quickly runs out. But that is inherent in the situation. I think if you went over the history of a recording of
popular records and classical music records I think you'd find a comparable development and slowly the classical music is coming into a more and more important part in phonograph recording which is I suppose about 10 or 15 years older than radio just as radio was about 20 years older than the television and then television. And so I think these industries as they but acquire experience and tradition then they begin to be operated more intelligently. There's absolutely no substitute for time and experience in that sort of thing. Mr. Howes answer to the question Do the various media today supplement each other do they clash in their interest and ways of presentation was this. No no one of them is official. In fact I'm very strong on this point having been in several of these fields. I'm I'm awfully sure I'm I'm I'm right about this that each one feeds the other that as well as television develops.
It's even going to help radio over the long haul as radio and television have developed they've certainly helped the book and magazine business in so far as making the public more aware and more conscious of more things and more different ways now in terms of how you are going to compete for the time of the consumer the person who's listening or reading or whatever it may be that's of course another matter. But I think that 50 years ago a lot of people must have just spent a great deal of time simply looking out the window or playing pinocle or maybe having to work as people had to do many many longer hours than we work today so there is more leisure that people can spend in listening and reading and that kind of thing. But apart from that question of the competition for the time and that is real of course. Apart from that I think the very year expansion of horizons that one gets from television will for example look at these people the sunrise semester's these educational programmes that are put on and the widening of the horizon of those who listen to it. One of the one of the difficulties
is one of the one of the problems is that so many people in radio and television are used to thinking in millions and if you don't have a rating of 20 or 30 why they aren't interested. But a rating of what I do is one of two million people and that's an awful lot of people. When you compare what's happened in the sale of paperback books for example isn't that an instance of how the reading habit has enormously spread and yet that's been going along at the same time that television and radio have been making these enormous inroads. People do have the time and the interest that each one reinforces the other but particularly in respect to the Cypriote type of programming. Look at the type of record that's being sold about one third of the records now classical music. A lot of young people with no relation to whether they're rich poor intelligent or stupid. A lot of young people many of them like classical music they never would have known about it. But for the for the record and record the recorded music and I'm positive I'm sure the same thing works out in radio and television that it exposes people
to. I did as impressions that they would never have received for these media. And then they go on from their radio on their television into reading and other fields. Immediacy is often mentioned as the prime advantage of the electronic media. Will radio and television news coverage force newspapers to devote more time to analyses and background information. Mark in the grand scheme of NBC in Washington said. Well I didn't I wouldn't say it was the role of the future I think this is what is occurring now. If you'll notice. Take the New York Times for example where Scotty Reston is now the chief of the bureau. I think the one most able reporters in the country you read the New York Times is any attention now and you will find that there are new stories out of the Washington bureau almost everyone has a feature aspect to it they're writing them differently.
What they're trying to do and what they can do it any good newspaper can do is to go in depth. Into a story and present an angle perhaps at radio and TV in the slam bang immediate coverage might mess up or for example if I have two minutes at night. To do a commentary on the news I simply cannot cover in two minutes it might be as hard as I try. All of the ground that a New York Times story can cover in two columns I can't do it. That's a function of the newspaper. To interpret. To expand to dig into the story. To supplement. The immediacy of radio and TV coverage. Now one way on TV however have enough time as we do during the conventions. I think we beat the pants off the newspapers we beat them all hollow because then we are not only showing the thing we're explaining as it
happens. We have the time to do it because you know we're on the air all day long and we've got more time to do it. And there I think all they can do it then is to write their overnight story say try to put the everything that has happened in perspective. And we even do that by the way in our round ups at various points in the course of the convention. Mr A grand scheme is widely known for his television coverage of political convention. Wasn't there a danger when you asked Mr. Agron ski that politicians were more concerned about getting their pictures on national television screens than they were in giving thoughtful answers to a journalist. If you mean that the delegates to a national convention like to get their picture on TV and in fact plan statements and appearances so that it will coincide with the best TV viewing time I think you're dead right. Obviously it's extremely
valuable in terms of national publicity especially for people of convention with presidential aspirations. Some ax to grind to get as much national publicity as they can and they endeavor to do just that. I think that they do ham it up to a considerable extent for that reason a number of occasions. But. Overall looking at the convention coverage in the round. Taking it in perspective. I'm inclined to feel the television coverage of the national convention. Does not. Work for the convention and. The nomination process. I'm inclined to think that it does not in the end distort it. I'm inclined to think that the candidate who would have been chosen whether or not a
TV camera on the scene is in the end chosen. I'm inclined to think that it does not interfere with the behind the scenes processes of the. Convention was scenery. And I'm inclined to think that on the whole television coverage is beneficial. In that. It brings into the open. Many of the processes of the convention. Which might otherwise never be exposed to the public view. I think we perform a service in that sense rather than a disservice. Example I think of one convention in 1952. During the Republican convention which cog. Where there was a closed caucus of the Illinois delegation. And I was able. To put a
camera. Up to. A knot hole. And a contraction boarding a sort of temporary screening and put on the air of the convention and caucus. I couldn't get sound. But. I had done what any reporter should do. I knew what they were talking about. And therefore I was able to provide. A description of the issue that was involved. At the same time we had the picture on the screen and a lot of the newsman screamed bloody murder and yelled about violating the. Secrecy of a caucus and all that. Well there isn't. A single newsman. Who had he had an opportunity. To. Cover a significant. Caucus in some way or another would not have done
so as I did. And I think that the yells at that time were very simply because television had beaten him on a story and we have the advantage of the instantaneous present of what is happening. Which means that the. NEWSPAPER MAN. Is obviously writing after the event. And if he resents that I think the resentment is natural. But. For him to go beyond that and argue with it because we can put it on as it happens and because we bring out the natural hamming as in a lot of the delegates that we are in some way interfering or distorting. We're changing the ordinary course of the convention I think is an actress and I do not accept Mr.
Daley Mr. Lewis or Mr. Agron ski. Each spoke of new developments of technology as the factor which will improve news coverage for television. Eric Sevareid who was widely respected for his concern over the future of television news made this remark. Well I don't. Think the answer lies in great technical developments. It entirely lies it seems to me with the people who own and manage the networks. This is also true in this side of the printing press. They have got to live up to a public trust here of a very heavy nature. I don't think we're doing this properly unless they are going to turn over the big audiences and that's the evening audiences. And expose them to far more serious instruction and information in terms of documentaries and news commentary
and so on. About what is happening in the real world. They're never going to quite live up to this trust. We don't have much time for exposure now. Even Sunday afternoon the so-called intellectual ghetto gets very crowded. You take a look at a football quiz shows movies. And I'm sure it's getting better even in that Sunday afternoon there. I think it's getting a little worse. Unless they're willing to take some of this precious inexpensive evening time when the country really looks at this remarkable medium I don't think they're going to do the job. Technical developments of the hiring of new people and all that matters nothing. Still the force of public opinion must have great influence upon the broadcaster. Again Mr several answers. I suppose it does. I suppose it does but I'm afraid that's just one of the little things they have to take. They can't expect a smooth and easy road especially
with a Mendus medium like this. That's one of the prices you have to pay you to do it or you don't do it. I don't know why the networks can't agree. On certain hours or half hours in a week that they'll both do the serious things. Maybe they knew that one would get one of the three would get badly hurt economically or so badly anyway. Or even possible to further develop this idea that Ed Murrow has been talking about just to have some of the biggest sponsors in the country who are on the air year round prime evening time the 20 or 30 of them that all agree that one half hour or one hour of their whole spectrum through the year would be devoted to an hour documentary let's say on the Mideast or on China or whatnot. Why can't this be done. I don't think it would last anybody. Somehow this time has got to be broken in due for serious stuff. The commercial television network in Great Britain. Has tried the experiment
of taking the prime time of all around 10 o'clock at night. And putting on a news program. Then it's only a 15 minute show. Probably no better in quality than most of these 15 minute shows but at least they've taken that primetime and done it and they've discovered that as long as they have. Good programs preceding that and following it they lose no audience or talk. It's been very successful over probably St.. I would think something of that kind at the very least could be tried here. Television is still in its infancy. Many experiments will be made. Many new techniques tried in the years to come. TV's greatest asset in the future may be the further development of the video tape process which will allow more immediacy than before with the instant on the scene development of the picture. But electronic advances will not make newspapers obsolete. There is still not enough time on radio and television to explain the many facets of a single news story.
As Mr Howe has said no one medium is sufficient. They complement one another. Whether they are doing this now to their own satisfaction or the satisfaction of the public will be the subject of a forthcoming programme. Next week then the second installment in the news media competition and change. You have been listening to another in the series of programs news in 20th century America in this series we explore all facets of the gathering writing and dissemination of news in this country today by means of recorded interviews with a leading news men and women interviewers for the series are Glenn Phillips and Ed Burroughs consultant on today's program was Professor Kenneth Stewart of the University of Michigan Department of journalism news in 20th century America is produced by the University of Michigan broadcasting service under a grant from the Educational Television and Radio Center in cooperation with the National Association of educational
broadcasters. Larry Jones speaking. This is the Radio Network.
- News in 20th Century America
- Episode Number
- Comp & Change #1
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- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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- News in 20th Century America is a radio series on the gathering, writing, and dissemination of news. Each episode addresses a specific topic in the news industry, and features interviews with men and women who make news their business. This program is produced by the University of Michigan Broadcasting Service in cooperation with the National Association of Educational Broadcasters.
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 59-48-19 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
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