Academic journal article Journalism History

Book Reviews -- the Political Performers: CBS Broadcasts in the Public Interest by Michael D. Murray

Academic journal article Journalism History

Book Reviews -- the Political Performers: CBS Broadcasts in the Public Interest by Michael D. Murray

Article excerpt

Murray, Michael D. The Political Performers: CBS Broadcasts in the Public Interest. Westport, Conn.: Praeger Publishers, 1994. 272 pp. $55,

Since the days of Edward R. Murrow, CBS has been a leader in the field of broadcast news. Michael Murray, a former president of the American Journalism Historians Association who worked for CBS News as an undergraduate student at St. Louis University, reviews key CBS News documentaries from the 1950s to the 1990s, focusing primarily on broadcasts from the first few decades.

This book is not a comprehensive review of CBS news broadcasts. Only a few paragraphs are devoted to CBS News coverage of such events as President Kennedy's assassination and the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Instead, Murray, now director of mass communications and chair of the Department of Communication at the University of Missouri at St. Louis, offers an in-depth look at CBS News programs as they probed social issues of the day. Not surprisingly, Murray gives a full account of Murrow's documentaries on both radio and television. He examines, of course, the classic "See It Now" broadcast on Senator Joseph McCarthy, as well as other programs which tackled issues still relevant today. These include the plight of migrant farm workers, the decline of the family farm, the issue of gang violence in urban America, and the link between cigarette smoking and lung cancer.

Murray describes the sometimes tumultuous relationship that Murrow and other documentary film makers, such as Arthur Barron, had with CBS management, as their portrayals of controversial issues generated criticism from the people and industries they examined. …

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