HENSLEY: Journalism differs from then to now

By Judith Hensley
Contributing columnist

Television news reporting is still a relatively new way of keeping up with what’s going on the world as compared to newspapers, magazines, and radio. The importance of easy access to news is critical during natural disasters or times of war. People count on getting the facts about world and local events which impact their lives.

In the early days of broadcasting, Edward R. Murrow was known for his reporting on both radio and television. According to the website History of American Journalism, “His ability to paint a picture with words brought him overnight success during his radio news reports from London during World War II. In fact, Murrow is often credited for inventing the radio correspondent.”

There were many important reporters in the early days of radio and television broadcasting who impacted the nation with their supply of credible information. They could be counted on by the public to provide facts without prejudice, and without political agenda for the most part. Of course, they all held such things in their personal opinions, but they kept them out of their reporting.

The Huntley-Brinkley Report with Chet Huntley and David Brinkley in the mid-1950s became a common point of shared information. Huntley reported from New York and Brinkley from Washington, DC.

The name and face I remember most on our black and white television is Walter Cronkite. There was something about him that seemed respectable, as if his delivery of the news was vitally important to him. It seemed he viewed his position in front of the camera as a solemn and sacred half hour of the day to keep people accurately informed about events that would touch their lives.

In the last several years the impartial and unbiased reporting of the news has become a thing of the past. The delivery of the news by current anchors, reporters, and commentators which involves the President of the nation has become a wide-open opportunity for political agendas and personal disdain or support.

Some news programs are obviously all out against him, leading off every day for months on end with a story of something else he’d said or done that they could call into question. Likewise, there are networks that rationalize his social media behavior and make excuses for every unpopular thing he does or says.

Coverage of the national political conventions was impossible to watch without realizing the bias in the coverage. It surely would be nice to turn on the evening news and hear clear and concise reporting about happenings in our area, our nation, and in the bigger world, that are delivered free of prejudice or preference.

Along with many others whom I’ve heard expressing the same frustrations about the quality of news reporting and commentating, many have chosen to simply stop watching the news at all. I believe people are tired of others trying to tell them what to think, and who to think it about. It is exhausting to listen to every bit of news being politicized and as an instrument to divide people from each other.

For those of us old enough to remember, we can’t help hoping that a new crop of reporters and anchor people will emerge from every network. We imagine news programming that reports relevant news without being a cheerleader for either side of any issue. We long for the reporting styles of Huntley, Brinkley, and Cronkite.

One of the earliest television newsmen, Edward R. Murrow ovserved, “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.”

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