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May 5, 1955 – Although the status of the American Magazine wasn’t the general premise of the program, the intent certainly brought home the fact that the Press in this country had been falling down on the job for a lot longer than previously imagined. In the 1950s, Magazines were filled with sensational headline-grabbing stories; some prurient and some informative to a degree. Matched against the magazines of 2020 (or social media since the Magazine was rapidly becoming extinct as source of anything but entertainment) or even against magazines of the 1970s or ’80s, we would tend to look at Journalism in the 1950s as an era of rarified air; where new ideas and innovations were being openly discussed as were social changes, getting underway during that time. If anything, the level of journalistic quality and integrity was of very high calibre in the 1950s. Senator Neuberger reiterates that notion by stating the level of journalistic integrity is high and the amount of “contemporary issues” coverage has skyrocketed, since Fiction had been mostly gone by the 1950s – some would argue that the loss of fiction writing in magazines has contributed to the general loss of avenues for writers in order to expose their talents and hone their skills and has in turn been bad for the Literary world in general.
I suppose it’s a generational thing; each generation laments the lack of substance the current generation has and that goes on to the next one and the next.
The guest on this panel discussion program was Senator Richard Neuberger (D-Oregon), himself a magazine publisher – it sparks interest in the moderator, Willard Espy, who was also a writer for Reader’s Digest.
But most of the questions from this panel of teenage Journalism students, focus on the issues in Washington; current legislation going before Congress – the upcoming 1956 Presidential election – our Foreign policy. A lot of hard-hitting questions from a panel barely hitting 17 – gives further indication that maybe the state of modern journalism and magazines in the 1950s were mired in speculation and not based in fact.
In any event, an interesting 30 minutes from a show that had been on the air since the 1930s and an interesting look at the what the average American in the 1950s had access to and what they thought about. Here is that episode of Youth Wants To Know featuring Senator Richard Neuberger (D-Oregon), as it was originally broadcast on May 8, 1955.