Sunday, December 04, 2005

What to write about, what to write about...

I suppose I should do the time-honored post that explains the real reasons behind yet another blog... ego and profit.

For quite a few years in the 1990s I edited and published two magazines on animation...Animato! and Animation Planet. When market forces forced me to stop publishing Animation Planet – a declining ad base and the death of many magazine distributors – I went cyber with a e-mail newsletter that I sent to people and posted on various spots on the web.

If you use the Google news group search engine you will find quite a number of them still out there wherever newsgroups live.

When I accepted a job editing a weekly newspaper I continued to publish the newsletter for another six months or so, but on a continuingly sporadic schedule. I realized that my new gig – which had turned into the managing editor positions of four publications – was eating up my time and I dropped my newsletter.

So, according to the posting of one writer on an animation website I "fell off the earth."

I'm now compiling a book of my animation writings – except for my work on Max Fleischer (see tomorrow's posting about that project. Each article will be updated and there are several new pieces as well.

Once there is a publication date set, there will be a web site to publicize it, take advance orders, etc.

In the meantime, because I had to sign up for this E-Blog service in order to post comments to other blogs, I thought that more of my ramblings need to be out there.

Here's my most recent column from the 'papers:

took some time off last week and actually made it to a movie theater not once, but twice. I seldom get to go as often as I would like as my movie watching tends to be dominated by the DVDs I need to review.

My wife and I saw Walk the Line, the bio-pic on Johnny Cash and June Carter and it was outstanding.

The other film was also a depiction of real events, Good Night and Good Luck. The films tells the story of how in 1954 television journalist Edward R. Murrow stood up to Senator Joseph McCarthy who was leading a movement in this country that called everyone's beliefs and patriotism into question.

McCarthy believed that Communists had infiltrated a significant portion of American industry, business and government. He was not alone in his convictions and, in the wake of the revelation that the secrets of the atomic bomb had been given to the Soviet Union, many Americans also believed the country was in danger from an invisible enemy among us.

The problem with McCarthy's attack was that he didn't seem to have the facts to go along with his accusations. While he claimed there were hundreds of "card-carrying" Communists in the State Department, he didn't name names.

While there was no doubt there was Soviet espionage in this country, McCarthy never really rooted it out. He did do one thing that undoubtedly pleased the Soviet leadership at the time: he created a hysteria that divided and terrified this nation.

The film shows how Murrow, with this weekly news program See it Now, took on McCarthy and was able, by using film of the senator's own speeches and investigations, to show America how wrong he was.

George Clooney, who directed, co-wrote and co-starred in the film, re-created Murrow's broadcasts and used the actual McCarthy footage that Murrow had used. The result is the film has a documentary feel.

Clooney spends little time introducing Murrow and there isn't a tremendous amount of screen time spend on story elements outside of the broadcasts. The film has immediacy to it because of this treatment.

The director also condenses the aftermath of the McCarthy shows and perhaps does a slight disservice to CBS Chairman William Paley.

For people who weren't around at the time and for non-journalists, the film does little to establish Murrow's role in both radio and television journalism. This is the guy who transformed television news in the early 1950s from an announcer reading headlines from behind a desk to filmed reports from the scene of a story. This is the reporter who actually succeeded for a time in preserving the autonomy of the news department as a separate organization which answered to its own standards and its viewers.

There are people who say this film is little more than an attack on the Bush administration and its policies. I'm sure the case could be made that the timing of this film carries a political implication.

What Murrow did was to question the conventional wisdom that Commies are everywhere that was spread by McCarthy and others. Murrow demanded proof to back up those claims. All McCarthy wanted to give Murrow and his other critics was a new set of accusations about their patriotism.

With McCarthy, asking questions or expressing a dissenting viewpoint was either the act of a patsy or of a traitor. This sort of sounds familiar, doesn't it?

I wonder how Murrow would report on this administration. How would he look at the war on terror, the teetering economy or the response to Hurricane Katrina? Would he accept the speeches or the answers at press conferences as fact? Would he push his network to report longer and more in-depth on issues and save the fluff as he did for shows other than the nightly news broadcast?

Well, there are few television news operations that operate today as Murrow did over 50 years ago. Today, the shows have to be done as cheaply as possible to maximize profits, and contain elements that guarantee an audience sex, celebrity and crime.

If anything, Clooney's film should make us ask ourselves as audiences what we are willing to accept as news on television. Perhaps we should be asking for more.

Yes, these are my opinions alone. Want to learn more on Murrow? Read Bob Edwards's book Edward R. Murrow and the Birth of Broadcast Journalism. Send me your thoughts at or to 280 N. Main St. East Longmeadow, MA 01028.
Love to hear from you. Post a comment. Thanks.


Marky Mark said...

What are all those [A] things?

I hate apple salad, but Jeannie found the miracle ingredient that made it palatable today. I am not making this up, Mike. It was GREAT! She added chopped CELERY!

True story.

Well, I better get out of the way, I'm sure Mr. Bissette will need PLENTY OF ROOM here!

SRBissette said...

Huh? My elbows in your way, Marky Mark? Pass that fucking shitass apple salad and shut the fuck up.

Happy holidaze, Mike!

SRBissette said...

PS: That [A] thing is that thing you can't tell from your elbow.

david lilburn said...

haven't gotten to see the Ed Murrow film "Good night and good luck" but am keen to see it when it comes for more general release in the UK.

David Lilburn.

david lilburn said...

we've still 2c "good night and luck" over here in uk cinemas

Prophet Fire & Audra Mairead said...

Check out our controversial song. It's like Eminem and Fiona Apple wrote about Hurricane Katrina with a razor blade on the apathetic arms of America. Is She too numb to notice? You can't pick up the cd at your local Mega-Mart. This song is to mainstream radio what blogs are to mainstream media. Few will hear it and even fewer will understand it. Will you?