The Whole World Is Watching – December 22, 1968 – NET Broadcast – Part 2
As election years go, 2016 may go down as one of the most horrific in our history. However, the same was also said about 1968 – a year when our political institutions were shaken to their core, as protest to the Vietnam War reached an all-time high, and when violence overtook the campaign trail. A victorious Democratic candidate, within grasp of the Presidential nomination, was assassinated the night of his victory in California. The death of Robert Kennedy threw the DNC into a state of chaos, which was played out before live cameras in the convention center and in the streets of Chicago. Where reporters and camera crews were singled out and targeted for violent confrontation by Police and Convention officials. Where normally staid reporters and news anchors lost their composure and stepped outside their roles of impartiality and took sides. Where the question of Journalistic integrity was being asked – where the trend of steering away from hard news and into soft-news territory was slowly gaining traction.
The state of our News Media was coming into question during the 1960s, and during the dawn of Mergers and buyouts starting in 1970; the relaxing of FCC regulations and the lack of serious commitment to hard news, the slow dismantling of lynchpin news organizations – the gutting of budgets and the closing of Bureaus – the news media that was looked on as a source of trust and strength has been relegated to a footnote; a platform for distraction – a backseat to Social media, a place where composure and impartiality have been abandoned – and where the Fairness Doctrine is a distant memory.
But as a reminder that the News Media was very much at the forefront of things, and was actively in the busines of covering events which shaped and influenced our lives, here is a two-hour documentary, produced by PBL (Public Broadcasting Laboratory) and aired over NET (the precursor to PBS) on December 22, 1968. Called The Whole World Is Watching, this documentary explores our then under-fire news media and their coverage of the events of 1968.
Since NET no longer exists, it’s questionable (though not improbable) that the video of this documentary still exists. Since there are several documentaries under that title, none of them are the one in question. So it’s possible this is the only record of that hard-hitting and topical piece of journalism.
Because it was a 2-hour special, it’s on 2 players – one hour each.
How times change – how times remain the same.