Academic journal article Journalism History

Watching Television Come of Age: The New York Times Reviews by Jack Gould

Academic journal article Journalism History

Watching Television Come of Age: The New York Times Reviews by Jack Gould

Article excerpt

Gould, Lewis L., ed.

Austin: University of Texas Press, 2002. 272 pp. $ 22.95.

Jack Gould was television critic for the New York Times from 1947 to 1972, and upon his retirement, Fred Friendly called him the conscience of the industry. This useful collection of more than seventy of his columns is edited by his son, the Eugene C. Barker Centennial Professor in American History at the University of Texas. As editor, he wisely decided to focus on his father's articles from the period from 1947 to 1961, when his influence was at its peak, before "mounting disillusionment" with the medium set in.

The usefulness of the book as a primary source for the early years of American television is enhanced by its thematic organization. For example, sections are devoted to Gould's critical coverage of McCarthyism in broadcasting and his searching analysis of the quiz show scandals. Separate chapters chronicle the rise and fall of both live television drama and the career of Edward R. Murrow. Gould's articles on children's programming and the evolution of the industry have contemporary relevance.

Gould had clout. He was nominated for a Pulitzer for decrying lack of coverage of the U.N. Security Council during the Suez crisis, prompting the networks to change course. An angry article about cancellation of a New York program, The Play of the Week, inspired 28,000 letters of protest and a new lease on life for the show. He could tarnish the reputation of faith-healing evangelist Oral Roberts with an irreverent review, or advance the careers of Johnny Carson or David Brinkley with his accolades. …

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