Change Happens….

Television in the 50s played an important role in educating the American public and in defending the rights of Americans to disagree.  Based on what Fred Friendly and Ed Murrow did at CBS News, do you think we have any Fred Friendlys or Ed Murrows in today’s media landscape?

Identify the role of television today and compare it to that of half a century ago.  Give me at least one name of a television journalist who you think is doing what Mr. Murrow did in the 1950s.

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About Samir Husni

Samir Husni, aka Mr. Magazine™, is the founder and director of the Magazine Innovation Center at the University of Mississippi. He is also Professor and Hederman Lecturer of Journalism at the School of Journalism and New Media. Dr. Husni is the author of the annual Samir Husni's Guide to New Magazines, which is now in its 28th year. He is also the author of Launch Your Own Magazine: A Guide for Succeeding in Today's Marketplace published by Hamblett House, Inc. and Selling Content: The Step-by-Step Art of Packaging Your Own Magazine, published by Kendall Hunt, Magazine Publishing in the 21st Century, published by Kendall Hunt, and co-author of Design Your Own Magazine. He has presented seminars on trends in American magazines to the editorial, advertising and sales staff of the magazine groups of the Morris Communications Company, Hearst Corp., Hachette Filipacchi Magazines, Meredith Corp., Reader's Digest Magazine, ESPN the magazine, Sail Magazine, American Airlines Publishing, the National Geographic Society, the Swedish magazine group Bonnier, the Finnish magazine group Sanoma Magazines, Southern Progress magazines, New South Publishing, Inc., the Society of Professional Journalists, the American Society of Magazine Editors, Vance Publishing Corporation, the Florida Magazine Association, The Magazine Association of Georgia, the National Society of Black Journalists, the Japanese Magazine Publishers Association, and the American Press Institute. He is "the country's leading magazine expert," according to Forbes ASAP magazine, "the nation's leading authority on new magazines," according to min:media industry newsletter; and The Chicago Tribune dubbed him "the planet's leading expert on new magazines." Dr. Husni has been interviewed by major U.S. media on subjects related to the magazine industry. He has been profiled and is regularly quoted in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, USA Today, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and many other newspapers nationwide, as well as the major newsweeklies and a host of trade publications. He has appeared on Good Morning America, CNBC, CNN, CNNFN, PBS, and on numerous radio talk shows including National Public Radio's Morning and Weekend Editions. Dr. Husni has also served as an expert witness in several lawsuits involving major media corporations including Time Inc. and American Express Publishing among others. He has been a judge of The National Magazines Awards, The Evangelical Magazines Association, The City and Regional Magazines Association, and The Florida and Georgia Magazine Association Awards. Dr. Husni is the President and CEO of Magazine Consulting & Research, a firm specializing in new magazine launches, repositioning of established magazines, and packaging publications for better sales and presentations. Dr. Husni holds a doctorate in journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia and a master's degree in journalism from the University of North Texas. When he is not in his office reading magazines, Dr. Husni is at the newsstands buying magazines.
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36 Responses to Change Happens….

  1. McKenzie Griffin says:

    I don’t think we have any TV reporters today that can compare to Ed Murrows or Fred Friendly. If there are any reporters like Mr. Murrow on television today, the American public wouldn’t even be able to recognize them as such. For instance, in this past election year there seemed to be only two sides to television news: left-wing or right-wing reporting. Reporters on each side feel that they are reporting “the truth.” Being recently eligible to vote, I found in researching issues that most TV reporters today tell the truth only as they see it. Even respectable reporters such as Fox News’ Mike Huckabee and CNN’s Anderson Cooper get caught up in the two-party back-and-forth of debating obscure facts, research studies, and scandals that only confuse the public. With so many news stations, opinions, blogs/sites, newspapers, and magazines, who knows what to believe anymore?

  2. jbbarnet says:

    Anderson Cooper is similar to Fred Friendly and Ed Murrow in the sense that he seems seriously concerned with educating the public rather than making money or forcing his viewpoint on the public. Evidence of this is when he was in Rwanda, Somalia, and Bosnia. The role of television today seems to be more to entertain rather than inform. The way the news is sensationalized, it’s not for information, but for ratings which equal money for the owners. This can be seen in the coverage of the election, where rather than offering information, most companies offered their versions of events.

  3. Summer Wigley says:

    The 50s era was such a quiet revolutionary era in itself and the use of media contributed to that. Ed Murrows and Fred Friendly did the unthinkable and openly discussed stories and events without considering the consequences. This is what good news is all about. Why should we be afraid? There is so much I am sure the American public does not know about, but it all should be heard. I believe that there are journalists today like Ed Murrows and Fred Friendly but on a different scale. With the usage of social networks and other forms of mass communication, it is much easier to spread vasts amounts of information to a multitude of people. We do have people who risk their lives to get a story and there are ones who may say something of their own opinion, but those people sometimes get fired. For example, Bob Lonsberry was fired for his opposition towards a Republican Senator, Mike Lee in 2010. Overall, I believe that Larry King is similar to Ed Murrows. He discussed topics that were critical to America and around the world. He wasn’t afraid to say what he wanted. The role of television, especially in the 50s, was extremely important. It was one of the only forms of mass communication that America had. Now, it is still important but there are many more outlets that people can use to hear news, watch shows, etc.

  4. Sarah Ashton Baker says:

    Television fifty years ago was honest. Stories were told for the good of the general public. Fred Friendly and Ed Murrow were true journalistic ideals. They were interested in telling stories that mattered and that were fair. At the same time, they were not afraid to tackle risky issues and allegations. I cannot think of a modern day reporter with the same journalistic purity, however, Don Imus has a similar gusto to his stories. The role of television today is more for the purpose of entertaining. There is still news of course; but with all the options, it is catered to what the public wants to hear and not what we need to hear.

  5. Katie Krouse says:

    Fifty years ago, television was not about who could get the most ratings, and broadcast stations didn’t always play it safe. It was honest and controversial. Today, it seems as if all major news networks are concerned with who has the highest ratings and who accumulates the highest revenue. That being said however, I do believe there are still TV news journalists out there that have comparative styles and tactics to Ed Murrow and Fred Friendly. In my opinion, Ann Curry from NBC practices honest journalism. She is always asking real questions that have potential to cause controversy. Also, she works on improving the morals and quality of life for Americans. For example, after the Newtown shooting she challenged our country to participate in performing 26 acts of kindness in honor of every victim of the tragedy. I respect that, and while it did not cause controversy, it was brave – a quality that both Fred and Ed possessed.

  6. Sydney Leaphart says:

    I think in today’s era television and the media is more caught up on being “politically correct”, that the journalism game has changed. For instance certain words and phrases are not allowed to be used in today’s media. If I had to pick one journalist who is the closest representative to Fred and Ed I would say Lucy Ling. She covers a lot of very controversial news stories. A lot of the times not worrying about what is or what is not “politically correct”. Also a lot of news stations are known for being liberal or conservative in today’s journalism world, which while I think it is okay to have an opinion I do also believe it is important to share both views and sides of every story. Because every story has two sides to it.

  7. Taylor Walters says:

    Television controls the media today, present in every house and in some cases every room of America. If similar reporters to Ed and Fred exist, I doubt they would ever make it far enough to be known by the public. With choice and control in the media I think reporters like these two men are quieted before the “controversial” stories are aired, protecting owners from personal attacks or worse. Anderson Cooper is the closest we have to these two because he travels all over the world and covers stories no one else wants, no matter how much danger may be involved.

  8. Martin Powell says:

    With the current competitive nature of network news, I think it is next to impossible for a figure like Ed Murrow to exist in today’s media landscape. The table is tilted against a journalist reporting on controversial subjects because of the intricate system of advertising money, political allegiances and the constant push for viewer share. Where one advertiser was pulling thousands of dollars in the film, today twenty advertisers would be pulling millions of dollars when put in that same scenario. As TV becomes less and less the source of news for the young generations, networks have upped their presence online. One journalist (and I use that term loosely) I have seen prosper in the internet age is John Stewart. By blending his comedic wit with uncensored (though very left leaning) reporting, his clips are now reposted millions of times a day on social media sites, blogs, and conventional news outlets across the web.

  9. Meaghan Snell says:

    Personally someone like Mike Hukabee reports somewhat close to how Ed Murrows and Fred Friendly, but not exactly as straight factual as they did. Today’s society in the media compared to 50 years ago has become more biased, fictional, and money based I believe. Reporters are more worried about keeping their jobs and keeping their stations strong opinions known to where the reporting plan and simply has disappeared. Today it’s almost like to get a straight forward reporter you have to look at Erin Andrews in sports, but I can’t honestly completely defend any day to day reporter(even the ones i watch myself) at all.

  10. Daisy Strudwick says:

    In the 1950’s television was the prime resource for people to receive their news. Even though radio and newspapers were still prevalent mediums, the novelty of television broadcasting captured audiences in a way like never before. It would be highly unlikely to have a broadcaster like Ed Murrow to produce the news in the way that he did because the reporters today are not willing to completely chance their career in order to break highly controversial stories. Reporters like Brian Williams are willing to put their life on the line in order to break stories but not necessarily put their career on the line like Murrow did.

  11. Katie Whann says:

    I do not think that we have any journalists now a days like Fred Friendly or Ed Murrow, or quite frankly anyone who would stand up for their beliefs for the sake of the American public. In this time and age, we are more concerned with what we have rather than standing up for what we believe. Instead of taking a stand, we would rather be content and comfortable with what we are given. In addition, it is often easier for a journalist to say what the public wants to hear rather than the truth. A journalist that stands out to me as someone who goes against the odds would be Anderson Cooper. He seems to always pick up stories that no one else wants to cover, and include news that people want to avoid. Although he seems to be confident in speaking out, I still don’t think there is any journalist quite as confident in their personal opinions as Fred and Ed.

  12. Tessa Romack says:

    I do not believe there is anyone in today’s media landscape that is like Fred Friendlys of Ed Murrows. I partially believe this because I do not think that as reporters and television journalists in today’s world they have the same “freedoms” as they did in the 50’s. Even if they wanted to report on controversial topics or share their true feelings or perspectives on something, they are not given the choice to choose what they are going to say. Their reporting is being controlled by the networks, advertisers and audiences. Television used to be a place where the honest truth was shared and news was not presented in a bias way. Now television is all about the highest ratings and what they can do appeal to the viewers and make them happy instead of informated.

  13. Cidney Simmons says:

    I believe we have numerous journalists that want to disclose controversial issues; however, in this day it’s rare to find one that actually will. As discussed in class, one of the largest goals is profit and the question of “what’s in it for me?” Not as many reporters are willing to potentially lose sponsors, ads, and even their job. I think Mike Wallace was a great reporter, who wasn’t afraid to speak his mind. When discussing his biography on CBS Sunday Morning, they said he was always amusing to the audience and terrifying to the one being interviewed. His bluntness is what I believe would be better for more reporters to have, who knows what all could be uncovered.

  14. Catherine Montague says:

    Television in the 1950’s was not competitive, but it was simply honest. Television stations were not in completion to see who could get more ratings than the other, but instead wanted to share with the public the honest news. In my opinion, Anderson Cooper is incredibly similar to Fred Friendly and Ed Murrow. There are many ways in which this is proven to be true. Anderson Cooper makes it clear to his audience that he cares about the news that he is delivering to the public. His stories are unique and different from other newscasters.

  15. Katie Adams says:

    I think in order to be a journalist you have to take risks and make statements like Murrow did. Journalists are passionate about current events and what’s going on around the world and that is what drives them to write articles for the whole world to read. I believe that Bill O’Reilly is a modern day Murrow. Bill O’Reilly is highly conservative and he is not afraid to voice his opinions. He doesn’t always agree with the president and he is not afraid to say it. Murrow saw an issue with the way the government was accusing everyone of being a communist, and he wasn’t afraid to speak his mind about it. This is the same way with Bill O’Reilly, when he doesn’t agree with the presidents liberal policies, hes not afraid to say something.

  16. Jordan Mckeever says:

    Television in the 50s was more accepting to expressing opinions that disagreed with the majority. Fred Friendly and Ed Murrow based their career on reporting the truth to the people because they deserved to know the truth. The journalism career was all about honesty. Today, news stations are more concerned about being the most viewed station and reporting only the news that they know the audience will enjoy hearing. The media business has taken an un-honest turn. No one today is doing the same quality of news reporting that was done by Friendly and Murrow. Journalist Michael Isikoff is doing a similar job though, because he always finds a way to create a story and present a full investigation.

  17. Robert Phillips says:

    I believe that television of 50 years ago was used mainly as an instrument to convey important information to the public, with some political influence as to how and what was reported. Now it seems as though politics have a much greater importance in the news than actually providing factual information. Fred Friendly and Ed Murrow did something that I could never see happening in todays news. As much as I would love to be able to make a connection between Mr. Murrow and a reporter in todays society, I simply do not know of anyone that would do him justice. While there are plenty of people who report the news because they feel the desire to share important information, I have never heard of another reporter buying advertising space in order to do so. The current reporters in the news all appear to have agenda’s they are pushing, whether right or left winged. Mr. Murrow did not take actions against McCarthy because of politics, he did so because no one else would or could stand up to him and he felt it was his duty to do so.

  18. Shea Gabrielleschi says:

    With the way news media has evolved today, no one quite like Fred Friendly or Ed Morrow exists. I find it hard for anyone to have such an impact from their positions now. News media outlets are immeasurable nowadays. Back then CBS was one of three huge networks that dominated the media industry. While CBS, NBC, and ABC are still dominant, there are hundreds of other outlets people turn to for their news. I would name a TV news journalist similar to Murrow or Friendly, but I really do not believe there can even be one like them today.

  19. Graham Wyman says:

    I can’t think of a person or people who resemble Fred Friendly or Ed Murrow. The things that they did broke barriers for news channels and broadcasting programs but not in a way that a lot of reporters or journalists followed. Off the top of my head, I can not think of someone who closely mirrors the way these two men were. The closest would maybe be Ed Huckabee and they way he imposes his stance on certain issues. But for me, there is not one that sticks out.

  20. Parker Bergsagel says:

    Back in the day of Fred Friendly and Ed Murrow, the news was real. News was reported as it was happening. To me, it seems that the biggest difference between news now and the news then is a competition for ratings. Now, audiences require news that is not necessarily “important,” which is given to them for the sake of the network. Murrows and Friendly delivered news that was important and just, but were not afraid to cover topics that were controversial. I cannot think of anyone in the news today that I feel that I can compare to Murrows or Friendly, as a feel that now the news is a contest of ratings, filled with news that isn’t truly important.

  21. Laura Reed says:

    I think that the mass news media has significantly changed since the 50’s. Fred Friendly and Ed Morrow were brutally honest and it is sad to think that reporters today are not. The first person that came to mind that was similar to them was Anderson Cooper. He is trying to teach the public what is happening rather than shielding them from important information. I also think that comedian news reporters such as Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are not afraid of upsetting the public and openly discuss their opinions of events. They don’t take themselves too seriously and this makes them honest. News reporters will probably never again be like Fred and Ed, and I think the rate censorship is growing in America is upsetting.

  22. Colton Herrington says:

    I think that television today is much different from half a century ago. Nowadays, people only care for being entertained; the majority no longer cares to be bombarded with news items perceived as “upsetting” or “stressful”, no matter how pertinent the information is.

    I believe that some reporters desire to be like Friendly and Murrow, but today’s mediascape doesn’t facilitate it. Reporters who aspire to be like their predecessors would have to be people like Katie Couric, Geraldo Rivera, Anderson Cooper and Barbara Walters.

  23. Christina Figg says:

    When contrasting television journalism today and in the 1950’s, I think the roles of television have completely morphed from a few legitimate news sources that were trusted by almost everyone, to a wide variety of biased sources. During the time of the McCarthy trials, the American public only had a few sources to stay informed, the newspapers, radio, and television. Without reporters like Ed Murrow and Fred Friendlys, people would have proceeded to listen to media propaganda telling them that communists were everywhere, and there would have been a long delay on the downfall of Joseph McCarthy. That being said, I don’t believe I know of a television journalist that I would consider to be on the same level as the brave men in “Good Night, and Good Luck,” but I do have to admit Stephen Colbert does an excellent job of mocking and calling out the sometimes silly tactics of politicians, news reporters, and public officials. He says a lot of things that most people would be afraid to say, and I love him for that.

  24. I feel as today’s journalists (not all) are nothing like journalist in the 50ths. This is because the stories of today are getting softer and softer. There is no one openly willing to back talk or check up on today’s governmental procedures. I feel that as a journalist it is our responsibility to be a part of that checks and balances for the American people. One journalist that I think has some of that 50’s tenacity is Anderson Cooper. This is because Anderson goes outside the box to gain the understanding of the American public, almost like Murray.

  25. Benjamin Bryan says:

    News in the 50’s compared to present day news has quite a few differences. Today news has become soft, and ultimately serves as entertainment to the public in that it plays what they want to hear. Unlike the 50’s there is so many choices of news channels we can listen to and watch, based on our beliefs. In the 50’s there was only 3 main stations, so what was said was true and factual no matter what you wanted to hear. I am currently unaware of any journalist that would broadcast a story like Fred Friendly or Ed Murrow due to the consequences. I personally do not believe in this type of media and would rather be told the truth vs. a filtered style of news of everything I wanted to hear.

  26. Bridge Leigh says:

    First of all, television differs greatly today from what it was in the fifties; back then, there three major networks controlling almost all the airwaves, but we now have thousands of programs produced by multiple major television networks. For that reason, I don’t think journalists today can effectively pursue such impactful material without banishment or total rejection. The closest resemblence today to Friendly and Murrows that I can think of would be comedic journalists Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert. Their material is edgy and very opinion-based, but it is nothing compared to the high-caliber story addressed in ‘Good Night, and Good Luck.’ While it is certainly possible for someone to report a risqué piece, it is very unlikely to see it done with any successful results.

  27. Matt Mayfield says:

    After watching Good Night, and Good Luck, my first thought was I wished news shows today were like See It Now. Murrow’s smooth spoken and calm demeanor made it seem more like one of Roosevelt’s fireside chats than a news program. Perhaps this came at a time when television was becoming people’s primary source of news and viewer’s attention spans were shortening causing Murrow’s program to fall out of favor. Regardless, news media is a shell of its former self, in my opinion. As I feel it has begun relying on sensationalism. But if anybody today is reporting like Murrow, I would say it’s Wolf Blitzer. Host of The Situation Room, Wolf doesn’t hesitate to tackle tough subjects or tough interviews. While he may be more confrontational, I think he embodies Murrow’s journalistic integrity.

  28. In today’s media landscape sadly I don’t think there are any television journalists that are concerned with our country and it’s people like Murrow or Friendly. You do not see a challenge to authority today like there was in the 50‘s, instead our news is now filled with parody between our two parties. News anchors launch attacks but they don’t have the drive and passion like Murrow portrayed. If I had to pick one news anchor I think has the most drive and willing to put his neck on the line to tell a story I would say Anderson Cooper. Anderson Cooper has been a prominent anchor for sometime now and recently came out as a homosexual. This act shows a reporter standing up for something he believes in knowing he could possibly be outcasted for it.

  29. Lindsay Langston says:

    I believe that modern day television differs greatly from television that was aired fifty years ago. As “Good Night and Good Luck” portrays, television journalists such as Fred Friendly and Ed Morrow were not afraid to speak the truth, even if it upset the general public. Journalists during this time were honest and did not make news “soft” or ever attempted to hide details of stories. I believe that journalists on television today try to conceal certain aspects of news stories or make stories more appropriate to be shown on television to diverse audiences. This, in my opinion, is a form of lying and makes me distrust media at times. I respect Barbara Walters today and believe that she holds similar characteristics to Friendly and Morrow in that she is honest and asks questions that people want to know answers to. She holds a reputation that allows people to trust her and believe that she would not hide aspects of a story from the public.

  30. Ellen Whitaker says:

    Today, television plays an important role in bringing the news to surface. However, not as important as it used to be. Nowadays, people have so many electronic outlets to get the news from that the television is a little irrelevant. However, half a century ago, television was the primary source of news. The 5 o’clock news came on everyday and many families sat down to watch it together. Since then, television news has incorporated many other aspects like celebrity gossip. Because of petty information like this it is difficult to name a journalist like Murrow. The only journalist who seems to be the most like Murrow is Anderson Copper. Cooper seems to truly care about what he is reporting.

  31. Chloie Johnson says:

    The difference between television today and television fifty years ago is so vast. Fifty years ago television journalist were much more honest and truly concerned with educating the public. In today’s media, journalists seem to care more about entertaining their audience, playing it safe, and placing importance on dividends. Lucy Ling is the closest journalist today to Fred Friendly and Ed Murrow in my opinion. She takes on a lot of cases that tend to be more confrontational than entertaining. I wish that more journalist today focused on the truth than the money and entertainment, but I think that journalists like Fred Friendly and Ed Murrow will be a rare breed.

  32. Herbie May says:

    The power of commentators and news anchors has definitely shifted rolls since the 50s. Back then no one really had a choice except to listen and watch the news. Digital media wasn’t even a thought back then. Ed Morrow spoke the language that the people wanted to hear and spoke in a tone and with a power that the public to cooperate with. I don’t watch enough news to know every broadcasters name, but I always remember watching Brit Hume. He delivers news in a way that I can comprehend and dissolve. When he is on the screen, I will listen. He always delivers the message, no matter what the tone. People get their news from him. He, in my opinion, is the modern day Ed Morrow.

  33. Ali Corbin says:

    In today’s television news, I think anchors are able to be more opinionated, and praised for their views then news anchors were in the 1950’s. With so many channels of news, we as an audience can choose which opinion we want to hear by simply choosing a news channel. For instance, Rachel Maddow on MSNBC is able to show her very liberal views without protest while Bill O’Reilly does the same but with a more conservative view.

  34. Kelly Litzelfelner says:

    Based on what Fred Friendly and Ed Murrow did at CBS News, I do not think we have anyone like them in today’s media landscape. This is because if all that controversy were to happen to a news channel today, credibility would be lost and arguments would arise and few journalists want to personally deal with that. Journalism in the 1950’s was not as strict as journalism is today. The goal today seems to be to inform the public and give both sides of the story, and in doing so, not upset the audience. This creates a lack of the media challenging the public’s opinion. Mary-Ann Maloney from my hometown news station digs deep to get interviews and asks challenging questions and therefore is the most similar television journalist I’ve witnessed to Ed Murrow.

  35. Laura Lindsay Viergever says:

    Television has changed drastically since the 1950’s. There are no longer hard hitting journalists that are completely dedicated to their jobs. The only familiarity to Mr. Morrow would be someone like Walter Cronkite, but as we know, he has since passed. People say that news anchors broadcast the news with neutrality and without putting their opinion out there, but it is easy to see that is false with things like the O’reily factor.

  36. The role of television has changed since the 1950s in its important role in educating the American public and in defending the rights of Americans to disagree. The role of television has changed today compared to half a century ago because “McCarthyism,” the search for communists in American media, politics, military, and many more aspects, (which was started by Senator Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s) does not exist anymore. Many journalists in the 1950s attacked McCarthy for his radical anti-communism. McCarthy outrageously accused some people of being communists simply because they read a European newspaper. I believe that Anderson Cooper, who is on the CNN news network, is one of the few Fred Friendlys or Ed Murrows in today’s media landscape. He covers many controversial news stories in which he travels to different countries and compares these countries to America and the American government.

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