News in 20th Century America; 20; Comp & Change #2
The following program was produced and recorded by the University of Michigan broadcasting service under a grant and aid from the Educational Television and Radio Center in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasters news in 20th century Iraq. 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. I think that I think that a good many of your radio and television people make the mistake of hiring a voice and expecting him to read a news report rather than hiring a newspaper man and teaching him how to talk. I think if they were to reverse the procedure and teach a newspaperman how to talk that they would be able to do more a more adequate and complete job. The voice is that of Robert Barker and editor of the Lima Ohio citizen. We have a writing staff in the newsrooms that runs up to about 35 men who do nothing but write new
shows which the announcers read in the second category of our professional news staff in terms of the commentator analyst. I prefer to call them reporters which is what they really are who prepare their own programs this could not be I trust a more professionally bad presentation of news or my colleagues on the other side of the aisle and was to examine their own house and leave ours alone. That is the voice of John Daley vice president in charge of news and special events of the American Broadcasting Company. Mr. Daley and Mr. Barton are two of the people you will hear today speaking about the news media competition and change. This is the second of four programs on the subject to be heard on news in 20th century America. Now here is your host Glenn felt. When radio appeared in the late 20s and 30s as a new and different method of news dissemination newspapers reacted with fear and distrust.
Body even the advent of television has caused the same concern. The fear and distrust have not been entirely dissipated but the years of experience have brought greater understanding to journalists in all fields. When radio began the Press wires a major source of DUIs for the written media were closed to radio news operations across the nation. Radio had to start its own wire service. Today the gap is narrowing to what degree only the members of the press can say here is the answer of Mark Etheridge publisher of the Louisville Courier-Journal to the question is there a lessening of the conflict between the written and spoken media. I have the feeling that aside from a few major approaches programs television is going backward. I think it's getting. I think the program structure this is a summary is a long long time. I think
that to dampen it Weston's Oh no. There are efforts on the part of both major networks to do some constructive things and I think a break program in D.C. is a very intelligent program at the NBC correspondents lively roundtable on CBS Mara I think General CBS correspondent some moment you'll need more. Programs like on the bus and all that kind of representative of 30 but the total structure of television I think has gone backwards. I don't think television has as much news as it used to have when it started because it's so
sold out. Radio is doing an infinitely better news job than television because it doesn't have selling very much on the bigger stations a network so having a very difficult time maintaining radio as a structure in the United States the smaller stations in the Penn Station are doing somewhat better the networks and the big stations on radio. That's not true on television. But some of the best programs of public affairs own radio not on television. A good many of them have the time of the men for a change. If you could listen to radio all day you would get a pretty good superficial idea of the top news. I don't think they can ever compete you know news way. They can take a subject
make a vocal documentary and even a pictorial documentary on television but they can't give you the detail the public wouldn't sit with them long enough to hear what it will read a television radio or television competes with the newspapers. Is the competition for time that was formally given to the news and affected their people as the morning paper. Men used to go home and get in his easy chair and read the paper. Now frequently turn on television and cuts down on the hours that he has given in the newspapers. How the experience has been as effective been television has been not so much competitive in the news since although there are great
many people who are interested only in the headlines and spot news. But in the competition for time that Lee family commanded from Mr. Etheridge feels that little competition exists except for the time of the individual reader or listener. We also ask the question of Frank Luther Mott dean emeritus of the University of Missouri School of Journalism. Here is his reply to is the chasm narrowing. Oh I think that ad had I assume. Has been overplayed I know that it was very strong. I remember very well when a meeting of representatives of Associated Press a PM me his and someone called Chicago many years ago or to see what can we do to combat this radio they're actually giving news over the radio was back Friday. Sometimes I forget where Or maybe there is
I guess along about 18 1931. And everybody was alarmed but I thought then and I think most of us think today. That after all of. The news on the radio on the news over television is the news in a different technical garb technically changed it's close but that it hasn't played new radio hasn't killed off the newspapers. All antagonism tends to die down the newspapers. Publish the schedules television radio stations in general they do. And. I for myself was pleased that the.
Election did serve to point out that kind of. Merging of the forces the election to which Dean Martin referred was that of James Byron news director of WB AP TV in Fort Worth Texas as president of Sigma Delta guy. Professional journalism fraternity. We wondered if this was an indication of a diminishing animosity between the news media James Barton editor of the Lima citizen said I I'm with saying that it would be a recognition that the gap is narrowing. I could backtrack a little bit and say that from my observation of same of Ellicott I largely through reading of their magazine the quill. I feel that the editors of the well and the people who are directing. Geniuses behind same and all because I have felt a compulsion to bend over backwards to to accept radio and television as a new
medium in in fear of being standoffish I think they have gone too far the other way. I mean that's the biased attitude of a newspaper man. But I think there I think that it is perfectly valid that the gap is narrowing. Your your newspapers have learned. Some valuable things from radio and television your radio and television have improved tremendously. As the time goes on and I suppose Basically the job of both is as certainly as the dissemination of the information is as important as as getting it doesn't matter a whole lot how much you know what's going on if you can't get it across. And from that point of view their jobs are almost identical. The method of approach differs. Sure. But I think the gap is narrowing your radio and television people are. Particularly as as television takes more of the emphasis.
I'm merely stressing the headlines. And I think. The headlines and the photographs are taking. Actually becoming competitive with newspapers and in the use of photographs as much or more than they are in the news reports because they are required to to give their news report in such brief fashion. The people will turn to the newspapers or to the news magazines to get the detail. Or certain way that they are competitive and they sense that they are each striving to get they get the news first and more readable or understandable form. They're not anymore competitive. For example when. Two competing newspapers would be they're not I think perhaps they're not as competitive. As a daily newspaper and a weekly news magazines such as
Time or Newsweek or U.S. News. Yes I would I would say that with those exceptions they they are compatible The ship is just academic radio and later television have have changed the format of a newspaper. Certainly you don't see actors on the street every what it is you're used to. What did a representative of the radio profession think. We asked Dave Milstein news director of KLIF in Dallas Texas. I think that the gap between radio and television and newspapers is narrowing. And this way that radio and television is not looked on in such a strange way by our brother and in the newspapers today it's gaining more respect. Perhaps this is because a newsman go home and look at their television more than they went home and listened to radio in the era past. We have to think back to the period of the war
when radio really gained its eminence and gained such respect with its immediacy and war reporting. But I think that many fine men are in radio and television news today and these men have the respect of their colleagues on the newspapers. And I think that's where the as you say the gap has narrowed. Still another radio television man Jack Krieger news director of WTMJ TV in Milwaukee said about the competition. It's pretty it's pretty general across the country. You wouldn't you wouldn't find the same situation that exists in any one city. You have competition between newspaper and television and radio stations in certain cities other cities and newspapers just ignore radio and television others they cooperate to the extent of printing their program logs for
free and other stations they charge other cities they say they charge the stations for the printing of the program longs. It's it's hard for for me being here in Milwaukee to judge on something that's nationwide. However I realize what does exist in other cities whether the gap has been narrowed. I think there's there's probably a narrowing of the gap in that radio and television and newspaper. Associations have gotten together to fight for freedom of information. If they're not they're not going their own way. You know they have combined their forces fighting against Canon 35 in the American Bar Association and perhaps that's a sign that the gap is narrowing the nation would skip the preceding remarks it would seem that the gap
to which Mr. Mules died in Mr. Kreeger referrer is narrowing constantly. Harry Ashmore of the Arkansas Gazette pointed to one phase of the competition that remains a source of conflict. Well there is little. I don't see much sign of the lessening of the conflict in the working press of the story the TV people are constantly in the writing people's way and vice versa and what they're trying to do is different. However I think that overall. The competition as such is lessening and the cooperation is getting greater. Nobody in the newspaper business man deludes himself. These people are not here to study. I think we're also resigned to the fact that the presence of the electronic medium has altered the whole press conference out of all. Semblance to what it used to be. It was very relaxed and easy give and take. Where now it's just a
pulpit which the public figure makes whatever points he wants to make or somebody among the press corps wants to but even get in the act itself and we have a great many people even in my trade who seem to be incipient actors who quit being reporters once the cameras trained on them. But the fact that a man is facing a camera or has a microphone in front of him certainly inhibits him greatly if he's a public man because he knows that everything he says can't be recalled and therefore he freezes up in the press conference just to be of much more formal thing that it used to be I think and told my people and I think they agree with me that we simply have to meet this by using our own great method and our own great abilities and our great flexibility Well the guy needs a pencil. So what he does is run the public man down in the washroom if necessary and get his questions in which the poor fellow saddled with his camera and lights can do. But I think they work together very well and
will continue to do so and of course there is probably an increasing interchange ability of people working in both mediums. Now television and newspapers. After all they couldn't run meet the prince and Face the Nation with up to writing Washington press corps. And that's fairly symptomatic I think of a closer working relationship than existed before. In the course of our interviews we heard the charge made occasionally that radio and television are more concerned with the voice and personality of the newscaster than with the quality of the news presented. Again Mr. Ashmore it does that and that I think is inevitable in a business which is is at least 50 percent show business. Now when they combine with the personality people a good sound newsman behind him and a good sound producer who is well grounded News this is not that can even be an asset if it increases interest to me
is just like having somebody who writes Well if he's well grounded is obviously a better man to have read a newspaper than somebody who's well grounded and thorough and writes badly. I think that on this individual stations this is. All an appallingly true where the news band is quite likely to be chosen because he has nice teeth and a pretty voice and has no news department back of him in many cases but is trying to put together his own new show by ripping off the last 15 feet of the teletype machine and reading it and mispronouncing most of the words. This is dreadful business and it's true of small radio stations in some small TV stations most of the networks have pretty good news departments of both radio and TV. It was a pretty good newsman and they suffered badly on occasion by having to make a show. By being unwilling to run a static
situation by trying to hype it up and gimmick it up to get movement. But I think they're getting away from that to some degree as they go along. I think they got carried away with the fact that they had Moving Pictures and therefore moving pictures had moved but I believe they're growing out of that center. The networks that have it. And this is what Frank all group editor of the Memphis Commercial Appeal thought about it on the question of if there's any criticism of the radio particularly now is that instead of developing people familiar and with the news and whether the ability to handle it and verify and Jag and well give it real newspaper treatment. They have some pleasant voiced persons who take the copy off the wire service and read it into a microphone. And it's so apparent that they not only haven't checked what they're
reading but they don't know some of the details of where to put the emphasis sometimes betraying the fact that they don't know what they're reading. And I think radio in particular is open to criticism. That part I. We have a radio station of our own and I have had this up with our people quite often they get and the nice boy has a pleasant voice and means well maintained well at the University of Missouri's School of Drama. When it comes to processing news and knowing the significance of it and even to the matter of pronouncing pronouncing names regional names and shortest vesting lack of awareness of what good newspapering is are good news at covering Yes. I think radio can make some improvements there. And so it seems obvious that the broadcasters have one of two solutions to this single problem. Either employ voices and teach them to become journalist or
employ journalists and teach them to become talkers. We mention this to Mr Orgreave it said that someone had suggested the best approach would be to employ the journalist and make him a talker he said. That's right I agree with him 100 percent in the oh I and I share the radio station managers and the desire to have someone with a voice that attracts attention because that is the headline in the newspaper business week in but as screaming headlines on a story and attract attention yes to have someone with a voice that will attract attention but I think his primary obligation is to be sure that that voice is getting information that is checked and verified rather than just reading off something and not quite knowing what he's reading. It's like an elocution contest. Robert Barton shared Mr. Aldrin's feelings. I think that I think that a good many of your radio on television
people make the mistake of hiring a voice and expecting him to read a news report rather than hiring a newspaper man and teaching him how to talk. I think if they were to reverse the procedure and teach a newspaperman how to talk that they would be able to do a more a more adequate and complete job. And I think perhaps I'm talking more of the more of the smaller stations now. My feeling is that your. That your networks have somehow had enough time now. Either to teach a newspaper man to talk or even able to teach a voice to analyze news. Then of course remember that the basically. Your television. And radio voice. Is merely reporting things that have been prepared for him by newspaper people either the Press Association which are primarily newspaper writers.
Or his his own local staff where they will hire a reporter to dig up the news and then have. A handsome man with a voice reading what has been written. When you get in your smaller towns where they can't spend as much money on that sort of thing where one person is doing it I think. I think there is where your. Radio and television news coverage falls down particularly on the local level. On the national level I happen to know that the press associations put their national and international and state news in such a form that almost anyone could. Could read it advantageously to their listeners. What do the Radio-TV people themselves feel about this problem. Here is Dave Milstein of KLIF. I think this is a very well put. Criticism
of radio and television today in television we note in most markets that the leading Telecaster news Telecaster is a man who was hired for his announcing ability rather than his news background most of the Telecasters in major markets and not in every instance of course you can't generalize all the way down the line but they are fellows who know nothing about news they have no part in the putting together of a news show. They are hired for announcing ability and I'm afraid in radio that's been the big trouble. It's based on part by a lack of people with the dual talent professional announcers as well as professional newsman. Many stations do not care for the golden voice on their news but they do like a newsman with a voice that sounds of authority and you do not find this as readily as you would like. On this we might gather that there is little disagreement among journalists on the best and result only on the method by which it can be achieved. John Daley
vice president of ABC explains further the broadcasters philosophy. Well I think this requires answer in two terms of reference. If we look at it from the network level where there are maintained professional new staffs of substantial size that criticism is without foundation. We do have to accept however that even in the network level of operation there are two kinds of news programs. There is in effect the reading of the day's news by a qualified reader who is not a professional journalist and there is the news program that is prepared and voiced by a professional journalist. These terms of reference seem to give my colleagues in the newspaper some. Trouble on occasion why I don't know. Because after all in the newspaper you have the old traditional Eggman who calls into the rewrite desk in the rewrite desk puts together the story. Now what we have done is to maintain these same elements of professional control over news in the networks. In that
though a programme is read and it is restricted fundamentally to a detailing of news items one after another the programme itself is prepared by a professional journalist in our newsrooms we have a writing staff in the two newsrooms it runs up to about 35 men who do nothing but write new shows which the announcers read. In the second category of our professional news staff in terms of the commentator analyst I prefer to call them reporters which is what they really are who prepare their own programs. We have the byline writer of the newspaper and in some instances they serve in the dual capacity of the byline writer and also the columnist of the news. So that I don't think that unless there is a willful desire to ignore the verities of the situation that there should be any criticism from newspapers of network news coverage. Now you go down to the local station operation. And we hear particularly considering the present economic terms
the small radio station it cannot afford to maintain a professional new staff in most instances where it can afford to maintain a news department the news department in the main will accept consist of one professional newsman whose particular assignment will be to cover the local scene so the station depends then on the prepared budget which comes to it from the Press Association or press associations to which it's a subscriber. This could not be I trust a more professionally prepared presentation of news or my colleagues on the other side of the aisle and must examine their own house and leave ours alone. So I can't see that this criticism is valid in any steps substantive term. And so it goes. Perhaps Dave Milstein was closest to the truth when he said that the dual talent was not easily obtainable. Again then it would be a problem of education and public acceptance. The competition that was apparently
- News in 20th Century America
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- Comp & Change #2
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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: 59-48-20 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
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