Academic journal article Journalism History

Electronic Media Reviews -- Six O'Clock and All's Well

Academic journal article Journalism History

Electronic Media Reviews -- Six O'Clock and All's Well

Article excerpt

"Six O'Clock and All's Well." New York: The Cinema Guild, Inc., 1980. 60 minutes, $350.

This "slice of life" documentary shows the TV news process at WABC's "Eyewitness News" in New York City in May and June 1977. Producer/director Robert Spencer set out his task as follows, "This film examines the making of television news. We have chosen to use the same medium we examine--film. We hope the viewer will examine our form, content and values as we examine those of the news."

The documentary is of historical value because it illustrates the genesis of one of the first "Eyewitness News" programs. WABC set numerous trends in the local news field. Indeed, the opening statement fairly well establishes the proper classroom use of this documentary. It should not be used as a "how to" primer or even a glimpse into newsroom reality. Too much has changed in local television news for those simple uses. Instead, it should be used in advanced undergraduate or more likely graduate courses which critically examine newscasts. Mass media history and media criticism courses are the most likely places.

It would work very well in conjunction with two other videotapes--"If it Bleeds, it Leads," the Wright State documentary on TV news judgment, and "Race Against Prime Time," a documentary exploring the racial undercurrents influencing TV news coverage of the Miami riots in 1980.

Students and experienced broadcast journalists alike will be amused at some of the outdated items: clanking teletypes, manual typewriters, film instead of videotape editing, bell bottoms and wide ties, and the logistical nightmare of a full and old union crew in full retreat walking backwards in front of a horse. …

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