The Role Of The Press – BBC World Service: London Forum – November 20, 1950 – BBC Radio –
The Press – bearers of tiding and information – purveyors of impartiality and witness. Well . . .that was the 1950s and earlier, much earlier for that matter. The press of 2023 are a mixed bag; part press officer – part “influencer” – part “agenda grinder”. Somewhere in the midst of all that are those people, dedicated to getting the story, the complete unvarnished story out to whomever will read it. And that’s the other thing – the avenues. Where is that news obtained? In the 1950s, when this episode of London Forum from the BBC World Service was aired, there were only two avenues; newspapers and radio. Magazines were weekly/monthly/quarterly and were most often reserved for the “think pieces”; articles that posed questions or provided background or followed a story throughout the allotted period of time (once a week in the cases of Newsweek and Time, as they were then). News is gotten now by way of blogs, Twitter, Tiktok, streaming news 24 hours a day or via your server – not all 100% impartial – not all even remotely truthful – the vast majority delivered in the framework of nanoseconds and much buried in an avalanche of Pop Culture and shiny objects.
The oldest source of news; newspapers really were the wellspring from which all other forms of journalism sprang or took root. The early days of Radio news was made up entirely of members of that daily Press outlet; newspapers. It was former newspaper reporters and editors who transformed radio in the 1930s to a source of news and information, starting in 1938. Those reporters allowed radio to do what newspapers could not do; deliver news and information quickly, most times as it was happening. Newspapers couldn’t do that. Neither could early television as it was hampered by the visual medium that relied on moving subjects to convey a story.
But even in the 1950s the subject of whether or not the Press were doing its job; its job to present a story impartially and to provide useful information was coming into question. Drawing comparisons between the role of the Press in Britain and its role in America were in many cases starkly different. The Press in the 1950s were evolving and some of that evolution was questionable (i.e. tabloids; a staple of news since the beginning of time, it was now blurring the lines of taste).
To get an idea of where we were in 1950, and how our view of the Press was changing, either for the better or worse, here is that discussion as it was first broadcast by the BBC World Service on November 20, 1950.
Amazon has a ton of books on the subject.
Books About Journalism And News