Sunday, October 7, 2012

Reading: "World War II and the Invention of Broadcast Journalism," from Michele Hilmes Listening In. Post thoughts about the reading here for discussion. If you're wondering what to write, just tell me the one thing from the reading that you didn't know and that you're still going to remember a year from now.


  1. Radio in the 1930's and 40's was used to connect the listeners to significant events happening around the world. I chucked when I read that "glued to the set became a national cliche," because it is a saying still used today! Americans especially listened to WARS! And I thought that was so cool. People brought war into their homes with the radio. I think this is a big reason people were so politically aware. Everyone was listening to the same thing, and news was constantly flooding radios.
    Listeners being transported to "different times and places with radio," was the culture of the radio. It was less commercial than today. People were so engaged! For instance, I never knew that about 1 million Americans were scared by the War of the Worlds broadcast! They trusted what they heard so much! Americans loved it because radio broadcasters evoked every detail and you heard all the background noise of the broadcast, allowing you to attend the even vicariously...unlike radio today that is usually edited. During the radio boom Murrow boys, like Shirer, used first and second person to address their listeners directly and involving them in what the war felt like. The connection of communication and the listener was amazing. Also, press and politics were so intertwinced, for instance the Pearl Harbor issue and when France and Britain declared war on Germany radio networks agreeing commentators would not discuss how the US should respond to Hitler...I never realized how connected and engaging everything used to be! Incredible how it evolved.

  2. In my previous history of journalism course, I got the chance to learn about Murrow, his boys, and other figures like Winchell. But upon reading the text I had to reflect anew upon the immediacy of news. The text stressed the "revolution" that was radio war coverage. This was a war that people listened to and gathered around for. The reading made it explicitly clear just what a departure this was for the public. And yet we’ve lost the immediacy of war. In the past decade alone the United States has occupied both Afghanistan and Iraq and yet we heard little of either conflict during those times of conflict. According to the reading, when faced with the choice of paper or radio news, the public wanted more news broadcasts on the air. Perhaps the novelty of the broadcast news form has worn off for contemporary audiences. Or is the sheen of war that has tarnished? It's difficult to pinpoint what the source may be for diminishing interest in traditional war coverage, but then again it's also difficult to galvanize the public the way broadcast journalism first did in its inception.

  3. The thing that I will remember a year from now is that much of the radio broadcasts of news from before the 1930s are unavailable and unfortunately lost forever. Because of this we will never really get to hear what the news sounded like on radio in its early days.

  4. I love the description of how Walter Winchell brought his news column to radio. I will probably always remember that his voice sounded "clipped like verbal tap shoes" (I didn't even look to remember that description)and that he proceeded his stories with different kinds of telegraph noises. I think it was an ingenious way to bring a news column to life, filled with an author's distinctive voice, early sound effects to break up monotony, and his ability to create a feeling of national unity (by addressing his audience as "Mr. and Mrs. America and all the ships at sea") while maintaining an intimate countenance on the air is still remembered by the author and I'm sure many who listened to his show.

  5. I think the statistics speak for themselves when it comes to radio. In 1935, 67 percent of the US listened to the radio. By 1940, a year into WWII, 81 percent listened. The ability for radio to broadcast live from overseas and not have to wait days for the same story to be in the paper attracted audiences and helped create a society that wants what they want, when they want it. In the reading there was a line: "This was a war that people listented too." I think that speaks to evolution of media and the heightened importance of radio during the war over the newspaper.

    I think the newspapers' desire to hold radio back could only be a temporary fix. They had to have known that this upcoming media was much more appealing because you didn't have to work (read) to get information, it was much quicker, and you could do other things while listening. And on top of that, society loves new things. The fact alone that the radio was new was appealing all in itself.

  6. It was an interesting read. The article paints a clear picture of how radio grew in form and magnitude by individual events. What stood out to me most was

    a. coverage of world war I--that must have been incredible to hear the scenes from the battle field, planes fly over and even just the announcers. I feel this is the unsung piece of history that the faked war coverage we watched in class was trying to capture. I wonder how Americans would react today if they were listening to the carnage and action in Iraq and Afghanistan rather than looking at photographic stills and glancing at articles.

    b. The point of bias by tone of voice. When listening to radio today most everyone has the sound of an every day man, trying to be entertaining, or a polished professional voice. Either way it doesn't feel entirely genuine. How radio voice get regulated and made over into the product we have today? Rules and regulations could have only gone so far.

    C. The issue of class among listeners. Today the cheapest form of media is abandoned newspapers, but those aren't reliable. People listen to radio in their cars, but usually only if they do not own or have access to Internet channels via Smart Phone so is this an indicator that radio is the "poor man's news piece" in the changing world?

    I enjoyed the article, it made me think of a lot of questions towards today and consider the past in new ways.