Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Reasonable and restrained were once desired media traits

"I am entirely persuaded that the American public is more reasonable, restrained and more mature than most of our (television) industry's program planners believe. Their fear of controversy is not warranted by the evidence. I have reason to know, as do many of you, that when the evidence on a controversial subject is fairly and calmly presented, the public recognizes it for what it is--an effort to illuminate rather than to agitate."

Edward R. Murrow
Pioneer television journalist Edward R. Murrow made that statement in 1958 in addressing the Radio and Television News Directors Association in Chicago.
Are the American people as reasonable and restrained as they were then?

Is the American media willing to give up its recent binge on inflammatory spin, and return to a more balanced, thoughtful approach in news coverage?

"For surely we shall pay for using this most powerful instrument of communication to insulate the citizenry from the hard and demanding realities which must be faced if we are to survive. I mean the word survive literally." Smart guy, that Mr. Murrow.

Less spin, and more honest, factual, balanced reporting might go a long way toward resolving today's societal rifts. But don't expect it to happen. Today's news outlets know their audience through tons of research, and they're far more likely to do things to provide that segmented audience with biased reinforcement and instant gratification rather than risk losing it by offering what Murrow called fairly and calmly presented content.

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