Book Reports, Portfolio

Edward R. Murrow and the Birth of Broadcast Journalism by Bob Edwards (Book Report)

Cheran Ratnam

Edward R. Murrow and the Birth of Broadcast Journalism by Bob Edwards

February 11, 2012

Edward R. Murrow and the Birth of Broadcast Journalism by Bob Edwards is a brief yet colorful biography of the prominent broadcast journalist Edward Murrow. As Cressman (2006) describes, “Edward R. Murrow and the Birth of Broadcast Journalism is a sort of broadcast version of Murrow’s life story, complete with sound bites and written in the conversational style that evokes for the reader Edwards’s familiar baritone” (p. 160).

The author, Bob Edwards is a former NPR Morning Edition host. According to Cressman (2006), “Edwards writes with the authority of someone who knew Murrow” (p 160).” Even though the author never knew Murrow personally, he was a student of Ed Bliss Jr., who wrote for Murrow while serving at CBS as an editor. The author acknowledges that he acquired most of the information about Murrow from Ed Bliss Jr. through conversations that spanned over thirty years.

The book contains the highlights of Murrow’s career as a journalist. The ten chapters chronologically outlines Murrow’s rather adventurous and extensive carrier. The Inclusion of Murrow’s broadcast reports word for word bring life to Murrow’s charismatic character, while adding flavor to the narrative. As Smith, D (2004) points out; the author firmly points out Murrow’s desire to use television and radio as promoters of education throughout the book.

Edward Murrow holds a heroic status in this narrative. The great dangers Murrow faced in Europe during his World War II coverage aids the author in painting a picture of a die-hard reporter. Murrow’s deadly encounters during the war described in vivid detail keeps the reader in a state of awe. The author tries to engage the reader furthermore by shedding light into Murrow’s personal and family affairs.

In the article ‘The Man Who Invented Truth’: The Tenure of Edward R.

Murrow as Director of the United States Information Agency During the Kennedy Years, Cull, N.J (2003) discusses controversial issues that surround Murrow. Here, the author tries to present controversial issues in an unbiased manner, while focusing on presenting factual information to the reader.

The reports and direct quotes of Murrow speeches included in the book enables the reader to engage with Murrow’s personal interpretation of media. Murrow criticized his contemporary media saying “I would like television to produce some itching pills rather than this endless outpouring of tranquilizers..” (Edwards, B 2004, p. 134). Here, we see a summary Murrow’s dissatisfaction of how popular media used its influence.

When I picked this book I was not aware of the iconic status Edward Murrow held in broadcast journalism. Here, the author provides a concise account of an influential contributor of broadcast journalism. Historical events such as World War II, the Cuban missile crisis and the red scare surround the tale of this passionate journalist.

I would recommend this book to anyone interested in news media because of the inspiration one can derive from Murrow’s fearless passion for reporting.

Broadcast journalism has come a long way since Edward Murrow. However, the importance of Murrow and his ideals are impossible to ignore if one were to dig into the history of broadcast journalism. Bob Edward’s attempt at capturing the role of Murrow in shaping broadcast journalism has produced a delightful book packed with history, passion and charisma.

 

References

Achter, P. J. (2004). TV, technology, and McCarthyism: crafting the democratic

renaissance in an age of fear. Quarterly Journal Of Speech, 90(3), 307-326. doi:10.1080/0033563042000255534

Cressman, D. L. (2006). REVIEW AND CRITICISM: BOOK REVIEW—Edward R.

Murrow and the Birth of Broadcast Journalism. Journal Of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 50(1), 160-161. doi:10.1207/s15506878jobem5001_9

Cull, N. J. (2003). ‘The Man Who Invented Truth’: The Tenure of Edward R.

Murrow as Director of the United States Information Agency During the Kennedy Years. Cold War History, 4(1), 23-48.

Edwards, B. (2004). Edward R. Murrow and the Birth of Broadcast Journalism. John

Wiley & Sons, Inc. (US).

Smith, D. (2004). Edward R. Murrow and the Birth of Broadcast Journalism (Book).

Library Journal, 129(8), 122.

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