“I began by saying that our history will be what we make it. If we go on as we are, then history will take its revenge, and retribution will not limp in catching up with us.
We are to a large extent an imitative society. If one or two or three corporations would undertake to devote just a small traction of their advertising appropriation along the lines that I have suggested, the procedure would grow by contagion; the economic burden would be bearable, and there might ensue a most exciting adventure–exposure to ideas and the bringing of reality into the homes of the nation.
To those who say people wouldn’t look; they wouldn’t be interested; they’re too complacent, indifferent and insulated, I can only reply: There is, in one reporter’s opinion, considerable evidence against that contention. But even if they are right, what have they got to lose? Because if they are right, and this instrument is good for nothing but to entertain, amuse and insulate, then the tube is flickering now and we will soon see that the whole struggle is lost.
This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and it can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise it is merely wires and lights in a box. There is a great and perhaps decisive battle to be fought against ignorance, intolerance and indifference.”
— Edward R. Murrow
The media in this country has been a business – profit for the owner(s) – from the very start. There is something about humans that attracts us to the most outrageous, shocking and horrifying events. They disturb and excite us at the same time. Our heart races and adrenalin begins to flow. We start pumping endorphins and dopamine into our brains. They make us feel alive and good and the media has used this from the very start. Stop Press !! Five Star Extra !! Be the first to get the scoop and get the papers out. And the first to get it, sells the most and the more that is sold – the more can be charge for advertising.
Broadcast media – radio – pushed technology to the limits to have someone On the scene reporting what ever was going on. And people would stay glued to their sets with the same fascination they would give the high wire act at the circus. For news has been as much about entertainment as it was providing information. Maybe more so. The reporter with the best ability to describe this situation and arouse peoples emotions was the one who was sent the most often.
So when television came on to the scene the networks and local stations would attempt to be there as well. But video equipment was big and bulky and difficult – if not impossible – to put into news making situations so they had to rely on the audio reporting of these same people. But as the technology improved and the ability of television to send video images from the scene improved, the skill of the on scene reporter became less and less important. The studio anchors and the actual subject became more important since these were what was holding the audience. The subject in the video had to be entertaining as well. Good video as they would say. And that included any people.
From the man on the street to the president of the country, there had to be a good video presence. And just as television abandoned the unpredictability of live entertainment shows in favor of the surety of the well scripted and rehearsed recorded ones. So to did the news makers begin to enlist the talents of video experts to make sure who ever was on camera, looked and sounded their best.
For news is entertainment which has to sell. Which is why whatever gets on television or on some internet site seems so hyped and over played. It is. And why our politicians appear like game show hosts and side show barkers. They are. All because it has to sell. Not only is the media the message – the message is becoming the media.
Oh and the story about Edison’s light bulb lasting 40 hours in the lab. That was just a story. Made up by a newspaper reporter to sell more papers during the Christmas season. And Mary had a little lamb was NOT the first thing Edison recorded either. That was a demo to sell his invention.