Committed to the First Amendment
By Staff -- Broadcasting & Cable, 6/15/2003 8:00:00 PM
Rereg, March! Left, Right, Left, Right
A recent review of a new book on textbook censorship in The Washington Post remarks on the "bizarre defacto alliance of the far left and the far right" united in their effort to chill the speech each wants to discourage. Bizarre, perhaps, but, sadly, nothing new.
That alliance is also reflected in the current fight against the relaxing of media-ownership rules. The groups united in that cause share a fear of "big media," but they are goring distinctly different oxen. While all purport to be fighting for the freedom to voice opinions, and that is undoubtedly the motive of some, the effort to overturn the FCC is also about preventing more of the kind of speech these groups dislike.
For those on the left, the hated Big Media are the New York Post and Fox News Channel and the growing popularity of right-tilting, tabloid-style news coverage. Enter the National Rifle Association, the issue's poster child for strange bedfellows, whose alliance with the Iraq War-energized peace movement was greeted with shock and awe in many quarters. It shouldn't have been.
To the right, the dreaded Big Media are the Times (New York and Los Angeles) and CNN. The NRA clearly fears a gun-hating media disseminating even more information (like handgun-death statistics or stories about the ease of buying assault rifles).
Then there are the morality police, who target content (attacking the likes of Eminem and South Park). For them, Big Media is whoever puts on the kind of "bottom-of-the barrel" programming or "crassness" that will increase if the government doesn't keep these companies in line.
Which brings us back to The Washington Post review and an excerpt from The Language Police, by Diane Ravitch: "The pressure groups of left and right have important points of convergence. Both demand that publishers shield children from words and ideas that contain what they deem the 'wrong' models for living."
Keep that in mind as various bipartisan groups attempt to roll back deregulation in the name of freedom and diversity.
Good Night, David
The two-anchor format, and arguably the evening news itself, can be traced back to NBC's teaming of David Brinkley, the dry-witted Southern newsman, with Chet Huntley in 1956. The two clicked and were paired on a 15-minute nightly newscast that expanded to a half hour in 1963. From 1956 to 1970, the Huntley-Brinkley Report was a fixture on American television, and their trademark closing became part of the vernacular. Asked by BROADCASTING & CABLE in 1986 what his legacy to broadcast journalism might be, Brinkley said, "We more or less set the form for broadcasting news on television, which is still used today. No one has been able to think of a better way to do it." Brinkley, who died last week at the age of 82, began his journalism career on the Wilmington Morning Star. He ended it as one of journalism's enduring evening stars.
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