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...wires and lights in a box.


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As happens from time to time, from weary bones and motivation stalled in it's nadir, I found myself queueing up a movie to dull the brain until sleep conquered consciousness.  "Good Night and Good Luck" was the film of choice, as the title seemed to offer the most promise of sleep.  Such was not the case.  Soon I was fully engaged in a film with some meat on the bones to chew on.  This film chronicled the battle between senator Joseph McCarthy and Edward R Murrow and the relationship between corporate interests and media.

As often happens in historical films like this some bit of wisdom sticks with you.  The following is used in the film along with other excerpts from a speech Mr. Murrow gave in 1958.

This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and even it can inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise, it's nothing but wires and lights in a box. There is a great and perhaps decisive battle to be fought against ignorance, intolerance and indifference. This weapon of television could be useful.

You can read the speech here.  It's long but worth the read.

https://www.rtdna.org/content/edward_r_murrow_s_1958_wires_lights_in_a_box_speech

We always seem to have those rare few throughout history who are able to comment on the culture, effectively communicating the value of it's progress while cautioning it's participants to pause and reflect on it's direction.  Mr. Murrow did that exceptionally well in his time.

Our history will be what we make it. And if there are any historians about fifty or a hundred years from now, and there should be preserved the kinescopes for one week of all three networks, they will there find recorded in black and white, or perhaps in color, evidence of decadence, escapism and insulation from the realities of the world in which we live.

I wonder if Mr. Murrow, if resurrected would be pleased, or troubled deeply with the outcome in light of the prophetic speech he gave close to fifty years ago.  Could he have imagined the television now?  The Internet?  Our connectivity?  It's impact now? What would he say?

 

 

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Bree Giffen wrote:

I think Mr. Murrow would be pleased at the amount of information on the internet accessible by everyone. He would also be troubled that this wealth of information and the awareness it provides has not led to an intelligent and enlightened society. 

And troubled by how far journalistic standards have fallen -- eg Brian Williams. 

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Solaria Goldshark wrote:

This film chronicled the battle between senator Joseph McCarthy and Edward R Murrow and the relationship between corporate interests and media.

 

Murrow might be disappointed to discover that media now has corporate interests and that journalism learned more form Orson Wells (scare 'em) than from him (tell 'em the truth).

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Madelaine McMasters wrote:


Solaria Goldshark wrote:

This film chronicled the battle between senator Joseph McCarthy and Edward R Murrow and the relationship between corporate interests and media.

 

Murrow might be disappointed to discover that media now has corporate interests and that journalism learned more form Orson Wells (scare 'em) than from him (tell 'em the truth).

Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst wouldn't though.

http://historyofjournalism.onmason.com/2009/09/16/46/

If you scratch a little deeper into the history of most things  you'll find that we've always acted pretty similar to how we do now in many ways - sometimes better, sometimes worse, but eventually averaging out.

 

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Theresa Tennyson wrote:


Madelaine McMasters wrote:


Solaria Goldshark wrote:

This film chronicled the battle between senator Joseph McCarthy and Edward R Murrow and the relationship between corporate interests and media.

 

Murrow might be disappointed to discover that media now has corporate interests and that journalism learned more form Orson Wells (scare 'em) than from him (tell 'em the truth).

Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst wouldn't though.

If you scratch a little deeper into the history of most things  you'll find that we've always acted pretty similar to how we do now in many ways - sometimes better, sometimes worse, but eventually averaging out.

Yeah, yellow journalism is as old as journalism. It's only the scope and scale that's changed over time. I recall sitting in some class in college, being told that the speed and reach of modern day communications would make it difficult to repeat the Holocaust. It seemed a reasonable proposition until I got home and presented it to my father, who had to replace the needle on his BS meter after hearing it.

The internet is the fastest and most extensive communications system we've ever had, by leaps and bounds, and yet there's Rupert.

Once again, Walt Kelly was right. We have met the enemy and he is us.

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