Sunday, January 22, 2012

Good Night, and Good Luck

Every once in a while, when I have a particularly important presentation, that I must finish in a very specific amount of time... I completely waste the time provided. This leads to a generally panicked couple of days until the presentation is over with. Welcome to my Edward R. Murrow presentation.

I am finding the man is actually pretty fascinating, but I feel like I could never get all the details right. Either way, I'm learning that he had a lot of integrity and determination, and spent a lot of time in Europe learning about world affairs first hand. He interviewed famous writers, and even people like Gandhi and Trotsky. Or at least, organized the interviews. He made sure that CBS was there for minute-by-minute updates of the war, broadcasting during the London bombing. I am shocked at what an outspoken and short-tempered man he is made out to be. I suppose my only impression of him comes from the youtube videos of his broadcasts, in which he seems calm and collected, but serious and knowledgeable (of course he would be on television). I watched the movie made about him, Good Night, and Good Luck, directed by George Clooney (who also plays Fred Friendly, the man Murrow worked on the program that aired the episodes about McCarthy). The guy who plays Murrow makes him out to be above any kind of overreaction to worrisome events. He takes everything in stride. According to my sources, everything else about that movie is extremely accurate. But anyway, Murrow eventually started a program with Friendly called See It Now, in which he aired episodes demonstrating the unjust tactics McCarthy was using to convict supposed Communists in the US government. Murrow agreed that the Communists should be rooted out, but McCarthy was giving people unfair trials, and Murrow didn't agree with that. There is a famous broadcast in which he points out McCarthy making a fool of himself with false accusations and hearsay. This was a HUGE risk for Murrow, especially considering the subject of McCarthy's convictions---Murrow was risking his own reputation, knowing that McCarthy would return with an accusation of him being a Communist. He had also lost the funding of advertisers when they knew that Murrow was going to do the episode. He had everyone on edge, all for the sake of giving the American people substance, not froth, in their news. Murrow also had always been against "editorializing," and by doing the McCarthy broadcast, he was breaking his own policy, representing a very clearly biased view. He gave McCarthy fair time to respond, and requested that it be McCarthy directly, not a correspondent. McCarthy's response made him a fool, and he was soon put under investigation by the US Senate (I think... anyway, some kind of governing body put him under investigation). But despite his triumph, Murrow was shelved, because advertisers didn't like his risky presentations. They didn't want to be affiliated with controversial news delivery. So Murrow was all but fired when he was demoted to fewer shows, and in a crappy time slot. He went on to work for the United States Information Agency, appointed by JFK. He resigned after JFK's assassination and Lyndon B. Johnson's rise to presidency. I haven't read much about that time period in his life, because his work with CBS had much more of an impact on his decade. My favourite thing about him was a speech he made at a Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) Convention in 1958. Here's the link:

Here is a youtube video of his McCarthy episode:

SO that's my blurb of what I know and think is interesting about McCarthy, but still, here I am late on Sunday night, after wasting a Saturday worrying, with the bear bones of what I'm going to say down, and a timeline half-finished to enable me to clarify for myself everything that happened to Murrow. Sometimes I worry that doing things like this are a waste of time. But I think I do them because I want to do projects well. I spend a lot of time on details, which is also often my downfall. I need some kind of expression about how details are not as important as the whole or something. But anyway. The lack of work that has been completed is extremely worrisome, because tomorrow my day is so packed, I don't think there will be any time to breathe. Tuesday, it will be somewhat as busy, but I'm going to put my Murrow project as a priority over other work for now (remember how I said presentations and projects put all other school work/things in my life on hold? I know it's a bad work habit, but once again, I've left myself no choice). This means that I'll be behind on Sociology readings, and I'm already behind on Psychology readings. Next year, I definitely won't be taking on so much. I only did because every one told me it was the right thing to do to get super involved. I thought so myself, but I think I forgot about "everything in moderation."

Well, I suppose I should get some sleep before my big day tomorrow. I'm going to be absolutely exhausted by the end of my day tomorrow. Then it's another early morning on Tuesday...

The only thing I know is that, despite how impossible my week seems right now, and how far away the completion of my presentation preparation seems, time keeps going, which means that eventually, all this stuff is going to happen, some way, some how. I am just going to do my best to keep my cool, and trust that it will go smoothly.

Good night, and good luck.


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