Thursday, December 15, 2005

A little time with Edward R. Murrow (on DVD)

The Collection Development and Acquisitions Librarian has a library technician whose job is to watch A/V media when it arrives to make sure the item works and there is nothing wrong with it. The young lady is out for a couple of days, so the librarian came over with some DVD's looking for volunteers to watch. I could use the break, so I took on one of the videos. It was The Best of 'See it Now', part of the Edward R. Murrow Collection, which we recently acquired. I have given thought to go watch the recent movie, Goodnight, and Good Luck, and I think watching this series has made me more curious. The interesting thing about watching something like this is to get a better appreciation of the things we take for granted. For instance, turn on CNN or your favorite news outfit, and you get stories from all parts of the United States and the world in no time. During Murrow's era, being able to have a cameramen on both coasts at the same time was a big deal.

One of the things I found fascinating about Murrow is the way that he seemed to be educating people. It was like the reporter was really interested in making sure that people understood not only the story, but how the story was coming to them. I don't think you get too see too much of that these days. Of course, he was always smoking, so there's something else you won't see Wolf Blitzer or any other anchor doing. It was clearly a different time.

This particular DVD includes segments in Korea during the conflict, a look at desegregation after the 1954 Supreme Court decision, and some time with various artists. For instance, Murrow followed Marian Anderson as she went on a tour of Asia. The 1950s were the time when the United States was sending musicians around the world as goodwill ambassadors. I found that interesting after recently reading about it someplace, can't quite remember where. He spent time with Carl Sandburg, who had this to say when asked how he would like to be remembered, whether as a poet, a historian, or other way. He said he wanted to be remembered as a man who had these four things in life:
  • To be out of jail
  • To eat regular
  • To get what he writes published
  • And to have a little love at home and outside
I think a lot of us would not mind being remembered that way (for me, at this moment, three out of four ain't bad). Overall, for students interested in history and the history of journalism, this is something worth looking at. But more than a glimpse at a reporter and his work, the video is a glimpse of the United States and how it saw the world in the 1950s. For me, it was a nice break to learn a thing or two. And I am telling my colleague I would be happy to watch other A/V now and then.


Mark said...

That's not a bad perk there, especially if you have some control over what you watch.

I'd recommend Good Night, and Good Luck. It was an excellent story and an excellent bit of movie making. Unless you have a color fetish; because it needs to be in B&W.

Lots of smoking.

Angel, librarian and educator said...

Mark: Thanks for the tip. No color fetish here. Actually, interesting you mention that because when I first went to see _Schindler's List_, it threw me off for a few seconds when I saw it B&W. However, that movie works in B&W, and I guess the Murrow film does so as well.