WAMU 88.5 : News

Filed Under:

Before The Internet, TV Was The Disruptive News Technology

Play associated audio

There's a lot of talk these days about how the Internet and social networking tools are influencing our political system.  Of course, this is not the first time new technology has affected the trajectory of the country. One professor in Virginia is looking at how the introduction of television news coverage affected the Civil Rights Movement.

In her new book, Equal Time: Television and the Civil Rights Movement, University of Virginia scholar Aniko Bodroghkozy says that television news networks came of age just as the civil rights movement was picking up steam.

"One of the key moments is the 1965 voting rights campaign, and it was a horrible confrontation: tear gas, truncheons and, you know, and nonviolent marchers, trying to march over a bridge," says Bodroghkozy. "The televising of that confrontation on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, most historians will argue, leads almost directly to the passage of the voting rights act five months later.

And civil rights leaders were savvy to the medium--Bodroghkozy points to a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr. about the marches of 1965: "He said that we are not going to allow the white racists to keep beating us up in dark alleys, we are going to make them do it in the glaring light of television."

Most reporters believed in civil rights causes, but Bodroghkozy says that major news networks were still figuring out the best way to report a story. For example, with the footage from the 1963 march on Washington, the editing was skewed for the sake of white TV audiences, Bodroghkozy says.

"March on Washington was three-quarters African American, about one-quarter white, but you look at the images and it looks almost as if there was racial parity, you know an unthreathening kind of image of this kind of racial utopia of blacks and whites altogether," she says.

Bodroghkozy believes that it was exactly television's newness that made the medium so important for the civil rights movement: "TV news in its early days was basically trying to show the print press that we're serious journalists, too. This kind of approach elevated that movement into national consciousness in a non-exploitative kind of way."

WAMU 88.5

Taking Great Photos On Vacation Or "Staycation"

Professional photographers give us the latest on cameras, smart phones and shooting tips for great vacation photos this summer -- and every day.

NPR

For Greece's Farmers, Growing Pressure To Be More Competitive

Greece grows plenty of good agricultural products, but has trouble competing internationally. Many in Greece say it's time for the farm sector to modernize.
WAMU 88.5

Obama's Trip to Africa & Foreign Aid

By visiting Africa this month, President Obama is drawing attention to one of the diplomatic tools that most directly shapes America's relationships with other countries: foreign aid and assistance. But now all policy makers at home feel the United States is pursuing the soundest strategy when it comes to providing aid abroad. We explore the issue with the official in charge of the Africa portfolio for the United States Agency for International Development.

WAMU 88.5

Taking Great Photos On Vacation Or "Staycation"

Professional photographers give us the latest on cameras, smart phones and shooting tips for great vacation photos this summer -- and every day.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.