The Decade That Shaped Television News: CBS in the 1950s

The Decade That Shaped Television News: CBS in the 1950s

The Decade That Shaped Television News: CBS in the 1950s

The Decade That Shaped Television News: CBS in the 1950s

Synopsis

Television news made meteoric progress in the 1950s. It rose from being a plaything for the rich to a major factor in informing the American public, and an aggressive rival to newspapers, radio, and news magazines. This volume is an insider's account of the arduous and frequently critical steps undertaken by inexperienced staffs in the development of television news, documentaries, and sports broadcasts. The author, the first president of CBS News, provides a treasure trove of facts and anecdotes about plotting in the corridors, the ascendancy of stars, and the retirement into oblivion of the less favored.

Excerpt

There had been some limited television before the war but it was little more than a rich man's toy. A minimal broadcasting schedule continued after Pearl Harbor but set manufacturing was shut down in early 1942. When it resumed in 1946 programming had to begin almost from scratch. There were only seven thousand television receivers in the entire country, approximately three thousand of them in New York City. Nobody knew how many were still in operating order. There was hardly a large enough audience base to interest advertisers in investing in what programming was available. And there was no evidence that television was more than a costly toy.

Some news and information programs had been broadcast before the war. In fact, on the day Pearl Harbor was bombed the CBS news staff began broadcasting shortly after the Japanese attack was announced in early afternoon New York time and continued until late into the evening, reading the latest bulletins and illustrating them with still photographs, maps, and charts. But by 1946 that small staff had been dispersed by war and it was necessary to start anew.

There was not much to start with. There had been no enduring patterns established before the war. Prospects in 1946 looked pretty grim. Receiver manufacturers had been granted permission to resume production, but factories had to be outfitted, assembly lines geared up, sales and merchandising strategies devised, and pipelines filled before the new production could . . .

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