The Murrow Boys: Pioneers on the Front Lines of Broadcast Journalism

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9780395680841: The Murrow Boys: Pioneers on the Front Lines of Broadcast Journalism

In 1937, as World War II loomed, the task of forming a European news staff to cover the coming conflict for CBS radio fell to Edward R. Murrow. At a time when broadcast news was in its infancy, Murrow trained the talented and daring group of foreign correspondents - ten men and one woman - who came to be known as the Murrow Boys. As the war developed, these young pioneers of radio news had to teach themselves the business, and in the process they invented broadcast journalism. They won the admiration of the nation for their superb, often heroic coverage of the war and the postwar years. But in the decades after World War II the Murrow Boys, and the form of journalism they practiced, fell victim to corporate pressures. By the end of their careers, they would see the Murrow tradition give way to the commercialism and sensationalism associated with broadcast news today. The Murrow Boys - a dramatic narrative that vividly portrays, in addition to Murrow, such giants of journalism as Eric S

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From Kirkus Reviews:

An absorbing, frequently poignant narrative about the heroes of CBS radio news, the men and women who set the standards for broadcast journalism during WW II, and about what happened to the heroes, and the standards, in the years that followed. Although there were great journalists in WW II besides those surrounding Edward R. Murrow, those who were hired and nurtured by Murrow to broadcast the war for CBS radio--Eric Sevareid, Larry LeSueur, William L. Shirer, Charles Collingwood, and Howard K. Smith, among others--have always shared a special mystique. As the husband-and-wife team of Cloud (former Washington bureau chief for Time) and Olson (former Moscow correspondent for Associated Press) explain, radio news was still in its infancy, and Murrow's live war coverage was the first time the medium's dramatic potential was realized. The authors show that these new radio journalists played an important role in shaping American public opinion about the war: Despite the emphasis by CBS bureaucrats on ``objectivity,'' the Murrow group engaged in more than a simple presentation of facts, ranging from the overt editorializing of Sevareid's eloquent broadcasts from London during the blitz to Shirer's masterful use of irony and insinuation from Berlin. They had to contend constantly with attempts at censorship. Despite their travails, the Murrow Boys enjoyed commercial success: Some wrote well-received books (Shirer's Berlin Diary, Smith's Last Train From Berlin), and some became celebrities in their own right, a portent of the media stars of later years. This success, and the journalists' identification with corporate interests, though, were to have a corrosive effect, as the authors demonstrate: Decades after the war, the traditions of Murrow had faded, replaced by sensationalist and commercialized journalism that lacked either the drama or the intellectual content of CBS radio's brilliant wartime coverage. A nicely told look back at what was, and a glimpse of what might have been, in the field of broadcast journalism. -- Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Publishers Weekly:

In 1937, Edward R. Murrow (1908-1965) was dispatched to Europe by CBS Radio as its European representative. Although the job consisted of finding entertainment for the radio, world events would soon intervene. With Hitler beginning his rampage, Murrow fought isolationism at home and provincialism at CBS to form a legendary group of electronic journalists. William L. Shirer became Berlin correspondent, and Murrow, holding down London himself, hired the vain, insecure Eric Sevareid for Paris. Streetwise New Yorker Larry LeSueur, covered Dunkirk. There were also Charles Collingwood, Murrow's "Bonnie Prince Charlie," who loved the good life; Winston Burdett, onetime Communist later turned stool pigeon for a red-hunting Senate committee; and Howard K. Smith, Southern gentleman and Rhodes Scholar, who would take "the last train from Berlin" when the U.S. entered the war. With the end of the war, we see "the boys" as they evolve in a changing America, resisting television (they all, at first, hated it); McCarthyism (Sevareid, Murrow and, especially, Collingwood would be fearless); hubris (Shirer became so arrogant he was fired); and the CBS corporate structure (William S. Paley, corporate shark, would always win). Cloud, a former Washington bureau chief for Time, and his wife, Olson, former White House correspondent for the Baltimore Sun, have written a lively, colloquial history of broadcast journalism that is so exciting one's impulse is to read it in a single sitting.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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