The Myths of Television

Twenty years after regular broadcasting began, the editors took a cold, hard look at TV. From the November/December 2018 issue.

Baby sitter watching coverage of a News Years party
(Ben Kimberly Prins, © SEPS)

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—“The Myths of Television,” Editorial, November 30, 1968

The first basic myth is that television is a great medium of information. This bedlam of sights and sounds is not really information. Information informs, shapes, teaches. It separates fact and fiction, true and false. Television simply presents everything, sequentially from day to night and simultaneously on a dozen channels.

The second basic myth is that television is the new medium of reality.

Most of television, of course, is a series of images artificially designed to simulate reality. From the arguments over Dick Nixon’s makeup for the Kennedy debates to the arguments over whether TV cameramen slanted their coverage of last summer’s Chicago riots, we can see that the famous “reality” of television is, one way or another, for good or ill, stage-managed.

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