Academic journal article Journalism History

Subject to Change: Guerrilla Television Revisited

Academic journal article Journalism History

Subject to Change: Guerrilla Television Revisited

Article excerpt

Boyle, Dierdre. Subject to Change: Guerrilla Television Revisited. New York: Oxford University Press. 302 pp. $16.95.

This volume is a well-written, intriguing history of a little-known but influential attempt to remake television in the late 1960s and 1970s. The author, a professor of media studies at the New School for Social Research, does an excellent job of balancing her insider's perspective (she was involved with Videofreex, one of the groups about whom she writes) with superb archival research and interviews.

The "guerrilla television" movement came about as a result of the convergence of counter-culture ideas and portable video cameras and recorders. In the early 1970s, many video collectives were formed, and this book focuses on three of the most productive: Broadside TV, which operated out of Johnson City, Tennessee; University Community Video, which was based at the University of Minnesota; and TVTV (Top Value Television), which was primarily in New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.

The author traces two radically different views of what alternative television could be. One, practiced by Broadside and University Community Video, saw low-cost, portable video equipment as a tool for community building. These groups produced programs for local viewing and believed part of their mission was giving video power to the people. They trained anyone interested to use the equipment and helped some neophytes produce finished products.

The second view, that of TVTV, was that the technology could provide a tenable, national alternative to the established networks. …

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