The First Amendment and Broadcasting – in 1973, a hot button topic and one which further drove wedges between already fractured elements of our society. In 1973 we had reporting on the Vietnam War, which many felt was won and lost by the Evening News. We came out of the My Lai massacre and subsequent trial – we had witnessed a full-scale police riot in the streets of Chicago during the 1968 Democratic Convention. We were starting to hear about President Nixon and a report regarding a break-in at the Democratic Party headquarters at The Watergate business complex in Washington and a growing scandal was overtaking Capitol Hill as the result.
But where was the media in all this? Was there freedom of the Press? Was that freedom in jeopardy? And what effect was the current trend towards deregulation going to have on the future of broadcast journalism?
This discussion, the second of a four-session two-day symposium on The First Amendment and Broadcasting held at the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions in Santa Barbara, California. It brought together figures in broadcast journalism and several legal scholars. Among the notables were, CBS correspondent Eric Sevaried, former FCC Chairmen Paul Porter and Newton Minow, CBS News President Richard Salant, KCET General Manager and former member of the PBS Board James Loper, and Chairman of the Administrative Conference of the U.S. and former White House office of Telecommunication policy Antonin Scalia. Topic for discussion at this session was a probe of the suggestions that would alter the traditional relationship between networks and stations, the emphasis in this conference being primarily on television news and networks.
In retrospect, a fascinating and lengthy discussion (almost 2 hours) on the subject, with several figures who have popped up in our current history. This discussion took place in January of 1973 – the world of 1973 and the world of 2016 have changed irrevocably, and it’s interesting to hear the actions and attitudes of some 43 years ago, compared to the results and atmosphere some 43 years later.
Further evidence how some events of the past have impacted actions decades later. History is just like that.
Here is that discussion of The First Amendment and Broadcasting as presented by National Public Radio in March of 1973.
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