Dawn of the Eye: The History of the News Camera / the Powers That Be, 1960-1975 / Electronic Battalions, 1975-1988 / the Global Eye

Article excerpt

"Dawn of the Eye: The History of the News Camera" Volumes 4-6: "The Powers that Be, 19601975," "Electronic Battalions, 1975-1988," and "The Global Eye." Princeton, NJ: Films for the Humanities & Sciences, 1997, 50 minutes each.

Americans became transfixed by the miracle of television in the 1950s, and before long, the mass media industry began to recognize the important role the visual medium would play in transforming news coverage. By the 1960s, television reporting from the scene provided a certain type of drama that radio and print media could not supply.

"Dawn of the Eye," co-produced by CBC television and the BBC, is a series of six documentaries that detail the evolution of television. Narrated by Kenneth Walsh, these documentaries rely on actual TV news footage and news programming excerpts, and include interviews with news participants and media experts to illustrate how key individuals attempted to manipulate news coverage of major issues and events. Volumes 1-3, covering the period from 1945-1959, were reviewed in the Summer 1998 Journalism History.

Picking up in 1960, Volume 4 of the series focuses on the KennedyNixon debates and maintains that these were the defining moments in television's domination of politics. The 1960s and 1970s were years when political leaders became obsessed with the idea that unless they controlled television, their images would be destroyed. In addition to giving perspective to the debates, the film argues that a need for televised violence helped sustain the Civil Rights Movement and that a "beautiful people" image conveyed by TV news assisted the Kennedy administration. Also discussed is the "toxic" relationship between the government and television, as illustrated by the Vietnam War and the Watergate scandal. Spotlighted is one the most controversial TV news shows of the 1960s, Canada's "Seven Days," a semi-sensational public inquisition of politicians. …