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Four Years at the Mount

Sophomore year

Signing off

Angela Tongohan
Class of 2020

(10/2017) After watching "Good Night, and Good Luck," I could not help but feel in awe of the sheer brazenness of Murrow, Friendly, and their team. For those of you who have not yet watched the movie I highly recommend watching. "Good Night, and Good Luck" focuses on Edward R. Murrow, a celebrated news reporter for CBS who famously reported on the London Blitz and the rise and fall of McCarthy. Murrow and his team began their exposition on the communist witch-hunt with a young man named Milo Radulovich, who was in the U.S. Air Force. During the Cold War the concept of communism was unclear and lead to a atmosphere within the country of paranoia and accusation it was because of this and the people prepared to exploit it that Radulovich was forcibly discharged without trial solely based on his father who was accused of subscribing to a communist newspaper. If he renounced his father and sister he would be welcomed back, he refused to do so and lost his military career based on nothing.

Murrow used this to begin his broadcast of Junior Senator Joseph McCarthy and exposed the unjust machinations of McCarthy. The movie retells the struggle of Murrow and his team as they were forced to choose between ignoring the story or pushing through with it and risking their jobs and quite possibly their names as reliable reporters. The movie highlights McCarthy’s methods in disposing of those who went after him and his fear mongering; he accuses Murrow of being a Communist himself. Murrow, ever the leveled head journalist, easily disproved McCarthy’s claims on live television with grace and ease. In the end, the United States had become disillusioned to McCarthy and had wised up to his ways.

Murrow faced an ethical dilemma; whether to broadcast what was happening or keep everything hushed because of the intimidating power that he was going against. He was willing to risk everything—his job, his show, even his own image—to show the world that Junior Senator Joseph McCarthy’s groundless accusations against certain Americans were unfair and reflected poorly on the American people and their values.

I absolutely loved this movie because it has helped me to realize I am growing up in an age in which television more often broadcasts entertainment than anything of real substance. I think this is what we are lacking in television today: the people who are not afraid to broadcast the truth. We are so focused on gaining viewers or votes or high ratings that we tend to forget about the harm we are doing by taking it upon ourselves to shield the public. There are so many issues in today’s world that go on unreported. They are deemed not interesting enough to be broadcasted on the news. New channels would rather report the latest viral cat video or the latest celebrity wedding over what may be happening over in Syria or Iraq. Prime time TV would rather cover the Kardashians or the gossip of housewives in Atlanta then famines or killings.

It seems we as people have become more concerned with temporary, meaningless information rather than knowledge that could help us to better ourselves. Unlike the reporters of today, Murrow challenged what was universally accepted. Many called McCarthy’s war on Communism a "witch-hunt", comparing it to the hysteria of the "witches" of Salem. However, their complaints did not do much to stop him from continuing his alarmism and accusations against anyone who opposed him. Murrow seized an opportunity to reveal the truth, and in doing so he prevented the unjust trials with due processes of the law which is the right of every American citizen.

In the news media today, we need to take more risks. We cannot be afraid of the bigger power when it comes to broadcasting controversial or not widely accepted ideas. We cannot constantly accept what is being told to us for the simple fact is that not everything we are told is true.

As viewers, we need to give less priority to empty television. My own peers, often called millennials, frequently fail in the fact that we are not as involved in politics and world issues as we could be. We have the technology to make a difference. We have the means to make our voice heard. We have a voice. But we don’t use it. We are not taking advantage of what we are given to change our world. Why do we focus so much on temporary news and 5-second video clips, when we have the power to establish our generation as an active and vital voice in the world?

In an era of scarcely less fear and disillusionment than our own, Murrow showed bravery. He was bold, audacious, and daring. He had so much to lose, but he continued to fight not for himself, but to show a generation that they could be better. He needed the truth, and he wanted the world to know it.

That is what journalism is about.

My friends don’t agree with me. They call me a hypocrite because I spend so much of my time focused on media that is meaningless and un-educational (like the ever-tempting Netflix). How can I ridicule television’s evolution into an entertainment box when I only use it for entertainment myself? I suppose I can’t. But I do not agree with television becoming solely for entertainment purposes. Television can be used for so much more. Why settle for only entertainment when we have the perfect device to communicate knowledge to people all over the world?

Perhaps entertainment television is not completely bad, but it should not be excuse enough to replace all broadcasting of substance. The change in television’s purpose would be a radical one, and doubtlessly one that would take a lot of time and face extensive opposition. However, if the attitudes of viewers and broadcasting companies alike align themselves more closely with those of Murrow, we will all become more intelligent, more informed, and more capable of making meaningful changes in the world around us.

Read other articles by Angela Tongohan