Ethic for broadcasting; Audience for the art, part 1
The law locks up the man or woman who steals the goose from off the common but turns the greater felon loose who steals the common from the goose. Well what happens an awful lot in the area society is that the garment is being stolen from the goose and the silly geese stand around and applaud that. Now obviously I think at this moment we are being manipulated we are being bulldozed in a couple of cases we've actually been greatly deceived by broadcasters. Well I suppose ideally the responsibility is the public. I don't mean the responsibility for what goes on the air that's ours there's no question about that. But the responsibility for improving the quality you might say ideally is the public's when of course they're apathetic because they're fed marshmallows every day. Why shouldn't they be apathetic you never get anything you want. And if we build a culture. Based on fantasy
and then in a moment of crisis we are not going to face moments of reality militarily socially when we won't want the truth we literally won't want to those voices belong to Mark McGraw network newscaster Dr. Edward Rosenheim educator David Brinkley. Network newscaster Marcus Chiles columnist and father William Lynch educator. I am. The I'M. Am. This is I think for broadcasting a series of 13 documentary radio programs combine interviews with men who make broadcasting their business. This series is produced under a grant from the National Educational Television and Radio Center in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasters program for the audience where the art
part one. Now here is your host John Campbell. It has been said that the masses is what is wrong with the mass media that at the moment where broadcasting is concerned you have the bland leading the bland. This program is concerned with the audience. Those who receive what it is that is broadcast those about whom the media critics as well as others have used epithets like lethargic empathetic passive. The question at this point would be why. Why not use words like discerning aware responses. And again you might ask why. Is it because that which is broadcast does not provide for a response beyond the acquiescence toward the products mentioned. No opportunity is given these recipients in the way of programme material to which they could actively respond. This appears to be the motif of those who are to come in next on this series. Those like Charles Slepian head of the communications program at New York University.
As we ask him you as others on this series have put the burden of responsibility in a sense on the public that if we are we can give the public. What it wants I think this is what we are doing. But what would be your answer in terms of getting some kind of a response from the public as to whether these things are favorable or not everyone is up in arms over this problem now. Why did not why didn't they speak earlier. Because the public by and large in matters of this kind is lethargic. People who don't really know what they want how can you tell. But in the matter of food and drink you enjoy if your diet has been limited to a very limited field. If you've never tasted caviar How do you know whether you like it or not. I think the listener the viewer is in very much the same case he has been fed a restricted diet which is pleasant enough to take to taste. He has
accepted it. He sits back feeling he has no participant role no power. To produce or an act. Different things. And hence this lethargy. People are satisfied in a sense with what they get because they don't know what they might get and what they might enjoy if it was offered to them within the broadcaster who is in a sense controlling this diet as the burden of responsibility. I think so. You know why can't we have enlightened broadcasters who would venture forth in experimental programming or informational programming. Is that the problem that they are first businessmen and second showing. My analysis would be that there you got to the heart of the problem. The people who operate broadcasting are essentially business men. They are operating for profit and the greater the profits the better from their point of view. This is the fact that precludes. Taking risks reducing profits in the public interest in
serving the needs and interests which as of this moment you might speak up as minority interests. And. Given the commercial bias of those of the controls of broadcasting other than here and there you will find a man with courage and initiative it's unlikely that you will get much departure from the principle of mass marketing for mass response which after all in economic terms is the most profitable way of doing it. Robert E. Bartley FCC commissioner is asked. If you watch TV extensively I guess you like what you see. Yes a lot of it in terms of I have great selective in what I watch. We wish more work in terms of developing an ethic of broadcasting here. What do you see in the future. What you see coming out of it. Well I see that the responsibility must lie with the licensee. I think the problem is how to
hold that licensee to his responsibility. What about giving the public what it wants in the final analysis the public dictates tastes here. Well now that wants and needs is a word you can throw around all over the place. Our Mark I think is an act of apropos here is that the Chinese like rice and Dylan had a chance at Beefsteak. I don't know caviar and beef steak. There's a diet for you. But in lieu of this the listener was given something else about which we ask Ralph Steidl former executive director of the Joint Council on his grace of television. Not really if you can't mention the word sugarcoating and I have discussed the you know the commercial broadcasters interest in sugarcoating informational material and to the public in your experience do you know have you seen where this process has worked in reverse. Only was a year or so ago I was in Moscow.
In a meeting with the broadcasters of the various Curtain countries and in spending an evening watching Soviet television with my interpreter a programme was introduced of a cultural and educational evening with the opera a young man and the young woman narrated this program. The first excerpt was from an opera like Carmen and the second was love who I am with the third one was Figaro the fourth one to my amazement was DNA Durban then 100 been a girl. And the close of this first excerpt the man there turned to the lady narrator. He said well you can see you know why we included this with opera. Can't you. She said yes indeed. Well the next excerpt and the next and the next eighteen ex-service were from Vienna and a hundred men and a girl. Finally I couldn't hold my curiosity any longer and I
turned to my interpreter and I said well I explained something to me if you will. I said Soviet television promised us a cultural and educational evening with the opera. And now you're programming an old old movie a rather tired one that one would see a late late on a Tuesday night in any major American city. Say how do you explain this to my interpreter is that well I will give you a personal rather than a professional opinion. Soviet television frequently tells the people it is about they are about to have an educational or cultural experience and then it gives them something that it knows they like and enjoy. This John is a rather strong example of reverse sugarcoating it does fit in with some of the mood and atmosphere there where it is most important to be pursuing educational and cultured interest.
David Brinkley NBC news caster gives some definitive answers as we discuss responsibilities. We talk here about businessmen and children. We need both. On whom is the burden of responsibility in the final analysis here. Who is going to be the person who is going to bring about this better broadcasting era. Is it the responsibility is on the shoulders of the public on the broadcaster. Well I suppose ideally the responsibility is the public. I don't mean the responsibility for what goes on the air that's ours there's no question about that. But the responsibility for improving the quality you might say ideally is the public's. That is if the public responds well to high quality programming then there will be more of it. But I think as a practical matter it is ours because we have to exercise the initiative in the public can't respond to it until it is on the air and it has to come first.
I think it's ours primarily ours yours and mine. But what action can we take. Do we have anything at stake here. Do we own anything. Mark as Charles noted columnist states that so far as biting the hand that feeds them the airways are supposedly the ownership of the people of the United States not any private corporations. I think at the very least there should be time set aside for a political discussion of a serious nature on the networks regularly during a political campaign rather than this awful thing of raising money from pressure groups to pay the networks to put political discussion on the air. This is disastrous for this kind of program. You know it's just this is controversy of programming and the Americans as a rule will come through this. Oh that's perfect nonsense. Of course Americans like controversy Haven't you ever heard of the
American Revolution. Haven't you heard of the great debates in the Continental Congress. Haven't you heard of the Civil War. Haven't you heard of the discussion that led up to that. Come traverse he is the root of American life it is only the timid. The false timidity of the owners so-called of this enterprise that are fearful of controversy I don't want to hear that for the general public has been missed with user's programs for throughout the years being the forger. Well of course they're apathetic because they're fed marshmallows every day why shouldn't they be apathetic than ever given anything to chew on. Why do we have any response from them as to what is your intention here. Oh I don't know and that's probably it. That's probably because they're just apathetic and dead and indifferent because what they get is West Indies nine tenths of the time and the other one tenth their prime program. Speaking of crime programs there were some but of a different sort from those mentioned by
Mr chiles and it was a crime the way the people reacted to them. As David Brinkley returns to point out that the most distressing thing about the Van Doren exposure was a reaction to the VanDoren exposure. There are far too many people who thought well there is nothing wrong with it he was making money. Wasn't he in there for it was all right. I don't know how to stop that I wish I wish to God I did. I don't mean I don't know how I can stop it I mean I don't know how I how it can be stopped by anybody I just don't know the answer to that would be on me. But it is intensely distressing. I hope that by exposing some of television wrongdoing it might cause people to look at some of their own and other feel as if we have to be they. Why not the scape goat if we have to be the catalyst and that's alright. I think maybe it might be a fine public service for us to do. We'd rather somebody else did it. Well is it a problem that everybody thinks that everyone else is wrong using fingers are pointed but they've met with other
accusing fingers. I suspect so I get I think in 1948 when Harry Truman ran for president he kept making speeches about the special interests and people said all that wonderful Harry give him hell and everybody thought the special interest interests were somebody else never realizing he was talking about them. That is farm groups labor groups business groups. It is always assume that when you talk about crookedness corruption greed suspect pressure groups you're talking about somebody else. I guess the answer to that is for people to examine them themselves and their own motivations and their own actions and see if maybe the shoe doesn't fit them. Does this you fit them. Would they recognize it when it does. MARTIN A grand ski another NBC network newscaster comments further on the implications of the Van Doren dilemma. I personally feel that.
The actions of Van Doren were really reprehensible. I am quite prepared to throw a few stones in his direction. I think that when one looks at a lot of the things that have been happening in the area of payola that a certain a more general a more out of the is evident and what seems to me an incapacity on the part of some of the participants to distinguish between right and wrong which is my own definition of what a moral duty would mean. But in Mr. Van Doren case you have a man who is perfectly capable of distinguishing between right and wrong and who by reason of his education his background his family background for one thing. This state is
in community his profession as a teacher had a moral obligation to himself and to society that I feel he betrayed. This Charlie VanDoren can not in any way contend that he didn't know what he was doing or anything like that. And I will be so harsh as to go further and to say that in the end charlie VanDoren only told the truth about his part in this whole business of the 21 quid is only when he was faced with a perjury rap that may be unkind but I also think that it's accurate and the only man in the congressional committee that was investigating this case. The only congressman that I felt made an adequate and intelligent and perceptive comment
was Congressman Droon who after Van Doren was the laboratory praised by Rooney in's colleagues on the committee for having at last God bless him told the truth. He said that he could not understand why a man grown up and educated should be complimented for telling the truth. No one likes to sume that he would tell the truth from the beginning. I personally was disgusted at the weeping and wailing and poor Charley approach that prevailed when VanDoren finally came here to testify and not voluntarily by God he was summoned here. And I think that it demonstrates what we were talking about before. There is something wrong with the
standards of contemporary society that one should have to point these things out to people. I wrote a rather critical broadcast about Van Doren and was immediately inundated with scores of Charlie letters and it infuriated me. There is a. Wonderful Oh I think it's a 17th century quote train off it was anonymous that has always amused me and I've always found it incredibly applicable to events and developments occur around this capital city of the United States of America and it goes like this. The law locks up the man or woman who steals the goose from off the common but turns the greater felon loose who steals the common from the
goose. Well what happens an awful lot and or society as it. The garment is being stolen from the goose and the silly geese then around in the plywood of wheat geese and our offspring are further taken to task by Charles Seife when I think of my own freshman class. As we discussed for instance the VanDoren scandal with a grin of shock that I had when about 60 percent of those students said that they would have done just exactly walk VanDoren did. Now I say that this is a terrible thing and we have to ask ourselves How has this come about. Now this is a vast question that nobody can unravel. But I am certain that to ask the question who is responsible is a way of providing an alibi for ourselves which is the alibi for the first and last responsibility of any member of a
democratic society. If I have to point a finger of scorn of blame here I would include us who teach the educational profession that we have turned out children who are arrive as freshman in a university like this and capable of making such a statement as 60 percent of my students made. To me something has happened to education. That has brought children up to the point at which the atmosphere the climate of opinion in which they have grown up is such that they feel helpless on the one hand and. Perfectly natural in adjusting themselves to accepted practices. Here is an endemic problem. The roots of which I think none of us can discover but this is what the is the only ultimate point of interest in the recent scandals and broadcasting it has thrown a beam of light on a problem that transcends broadcasting and mass communication in its entirety and raises the question of survival of us as a culture how we can come by what is the only
solvent of this question in his degree the assumption by each and all of us of of choice and a responsible voice in the free marketplace of thought respecting issues of this kind. That is your answer. Here you have voiced a concern for the fundamental ethic underlying our society. And ethics are not only the stuff of philosophy. They do not stand apart from man. This thaws factor is brought to bear on the problem by Dr Edward Rosenheim associate professor of humanities at the University of Chicago. The answer to the question of Broadcasting's future lies with the ethos of the American people. Now it's obviously a terribly complicated question and you can say that what I just said was a very fatuous and simplistic thing. You could point out for example that in broadcasting there is a degree of manipulation by commercial interests which holds the public captive and the which the public can
only respond sort of passively and flexibly. I of course don't think this is true. I think of the astonishing thing about our country is that when people in this country believe in a thing strongly enough and want it strongly enough why then it usually has a way of coming to be true. Now obviously I think at this moment we are being manipulated we are being bulldozed in a couple of cases we we've actually been gravely deceived by broadcasters. I think the fundamental reason for this is that we have been passive that we have been on the whole apathetic to what goes on. I think and we've been misled I think occasionally we've been sentimental and silly I'm for example parents that he was rather distressed at the time VanDoren thing occurred to discover Holloa how much apology for an overt liar there was forth coming from various ordinarily tough minded citizens of our republic. On the whole as I say when we do feel strongly enough about a thing we generally
see the thing gets done. I don't think we feel strongly enough about radio and television today. I don't think we feel strongly enough firmly enough about education or about the motion pictures or about books as far as that goes. Curiously enough I believe where we are a remarkably intelligent bunch of people collectively. If we only get aroused and only get exposed. Some of the issues that lie here in this broadcasting problem only get exposed to some of the pleasures of the proper use of broadcasting can afford. We school teachers repeatedly have the experience of seeing kids who are indifferent or even hostile to the sort of thing that traditionally or are the concern of the humanities. Great great literature great music great art an exciting thing about teaching these things is that the indifferent or even hostile student. Somehow when he gets interested in these things and discovers what they're like becomes enthusiastic in acquiring knowing and in general happier
because he does know these things and does go after them. Well I suspect if we can somehow bring ourselves to a point in which we are tasteful enough to recognize that much of what has gone on in broadcasting has been pretty shabby and if we are also aware I think as responsible citizens of some of the moral problems involved then I have a hunch it is we the people and not any policymaker not of the advertiser not any broadcaster but it is we who will. Make possible a far more hopeful future. We the People. But what do we feel strongly enough about. Philip Hart United States senator from Michigan says well I suppose everybody can agree on the basic proposition that 365 days a year every year people especially in a free society should be revealing its own sense of values. One aspect of our sense of values
is our willingness as a people to tolerate some atrocious programming over both radio and television for a long period of time. But unlike some of the irritations and day to day living that you can avoid this by just turning the button off. If you're a member of a minority group trying to find a house there's no way to turn the button off. So in my book if we've spent 25 years before getting around to radio and television and still haven't solved the basic human relationships involved in the civil rights debate then it isn't at all surprising it took 25 years. How much longer will it take will the problem remain and the men vanish. What does it take to recognize the difference between that which is real and not which is not. Father William Lynch of Georgetown University as I asked in your book the image and I wonder of it. Kind of in the image you would see is put off by radio television. From what you have said is this a rather synthetic image
which honest in you or are you reporting it in Cadbury problem here to me. No but I do think that you're proposing an enormous question which it has taken me a whole book to try to answer something and I have used or rather a strong and critical language about the nature of these images with what I've got. I've tried in each parish chapter to try to get down to brass tacks of various critical centers of what is wrong for example. And perhaps this is one of my principal chapters. The difference between. Fantasy and reality and the tendency of this industry to create a dream world to make us live in a dream world that is unrelated to anything going on nationally or internationally. And I have tried to raise some
very serious political. And social questions one of them would go like this. I see have suggested in this book that our great political and military decisions are not things that are born out of earth from the top of our heads and single flashes but they come out of human beings whose minds and nerve are and have been affected by thousands and thousands of images in the direction of fantasy or reality. And if we build a culture based on fantasy. Well then in a moment of crisis we are not going to face moments of reality militarily or socially one. We won't want the truth we literally won't want it. And this is one of my suspicions. We may criticize the administration but we should also realize that we are dealing with a culture which is wide open.
To not having the truth told because it will not want we will not want the truth for our narcotic pursuit of having fun would appear to have no place for it. Still what we don't know can hurt us. Audiences must commit themselves to thinking rather than getting involved in the cult of the Easy. There must be an attempt of the self to make it clear to the self. But as to broadcast programming who is to say for what the medium should or should not do will never be known for certain. Not with one hundred twenty million critics. You have been listening to the audience for the art part one. The fourth in a series of 13 programs on ethic for broadcasting a radio documentary which is investigating the current broadcasting trends compiled from interviews with man who make broadcasting their business. Your host was Dr. John Cambers of the Detroit Institute of Technology. Producer for the series is Dr. Mary M. Cusack.
- Ethic for broadcasting
- Audience for the art, part 1
- Producing Organization
- WDET (Radio station : Detroit, Mich.)
- Contributing Organization
- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
- AAPB ID
- Episode Description
- This program, the first of two parts, asks if the audience is really there for more thoughtful media output.
- Other Description
- This series presents interviews that center on issues in broadcasting and society.
- Broadcast Date
- Film and Television
- Media type
Host: Cambis, John
Interviewee: Brinkley, David
Interviewee: Siepmann, Charles A. (Charles Arthur), 1899-1985
Interviewee: Agronsky, Martin
Interviewee: Rosenheim, Edward W.
Interviewee: Lynch, William
Interviewee: Steetle, Ralph, W.
Interviewee: Charles, Marcus
Producer: Cusack, Marianne
Producing Organization: WDET (Radio station : Detroit, Mich.)
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 61-52-4 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
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- Chicago: “Ethic for broadcasting; Audience for the art, part 1,” 1961-09-26, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed August 20, 2022, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-d795c268.
- MLA: “Ethic for broadcasting; Audience for the art, part 1.” 1961-09-26. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. August 20, 2022. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-d795c268>.
- APA: Ethic for broadcasting; Audience for the art, part 1. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-d795c268