Television News.

Television News Coverage in 1968 - "Just giving the people what they want".

“If It Bleeds It Leads” And Other Indictments Of Television News – 1968 – Past Daily Weekend Reference Room

Television News.
Television News Coverage in 1968 – “Just giving the people what they want”.

Night Call – Is TV News Telling It Like It Is? – November 22, 1968 – Eastern Educational Radio Network – Gordon SKene Sound Collection –

To some, Television News in the 1960s was considered the Golden Era of broadcasting. Newsrooms were filled with giants of Journalism – America trusted CBS Evening News Anchor Walter Cronkite more than anyone else in the world – Life stopped every night around 6 for the network news, whether it was CBS, ABC or NBC. The words were gospel – the images seared into our memory banks.

But there were some who felt Television News in the 1960s was at its all-time low. That it was all about sensationalism and not about getting important stories across. It was anything to grab attention. The somewhat cynical adage of “If It Bleeds It Leads” was the motto by which newsrooms ran. Veteran news anchors and reporters were seeing writing on the wall and it wasn’t optimistic. We were, many feared, turning into a nation of ghouls; a fractured and disenfranchised society where the upheavals of recent months (1968 saw assassinations of MLK and RFK – the Vietnam war spinning out of control – our cities turned into battlegrounds – our schools the scene of demonstrations and violence.

In short, we were heading straight to hell and Television News was pledged to cover it, warts and all.

But news and news gathering in 1968 were poles apart different in 1968 than they are 2023. Attitudes have changed – methods of covering stories has changed. Attention spans have shortened considerably and no one trusts anyone who anchors the news. News has become a 24 hour dispenser of curated waste products. A service that provides more spin that fact and more sensation than accuracy.

Listening to this discussion on the Eastern Educational Network program Night Call from November 22, 1968 (an ironic date, considering it was only five years earlier that we were reeling from the assassination of President Kennedy). The ensuing years have dulled our shock and tempered our outrage. News and News gathering organizations have become increasingly more politicized, more about grabbing attention.

In 1968 News and Journalism were still considered cornerstones for information gathering and dispersal in our society. 2023 news is considered a branch of entertainment, principle players judged more for wardrobe than substance.

We have come a long way – but not in the direction we had hoped.

Here is that episode of Night Call from the forerunner of National Public Radio on November 22, 1968.

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