With all the similarities between the McCarthy Era and today’s, post-9/11 America, there is one major difference. The media plays a much more important role in the social attitudes of modern life than they did in Edward R. Murrow’s day. This is mostly caused by a combination of a shrinking world due to technological advances in the last fifty years and the news media having a more biased agenda.
The shrinking of the world is obvious and evident. Technology such as planes and trains, make travel from one place to another simple and convenient, but the true world-wide uniting factor is our advances in communication. In the 40’s and 50’s, you had radio and television, which was in its infant stages compared to today’s televised media. In recent years, the advent and common use of cell phones and the internet make staying in contact and sharing news as simple as pushing a button or typing your opinion. In an instant, anybody, reporter and everyday-man alike, can share anything they want with anybody around the world. These communication advances are being used by the media to advance their opinions and beliefs and sway national opinion in their direction.
According to Good Night, and Good Luck, Edward Murrow was a pioneer in true editorial media. The attitude of reporters in his day was to tell the facts, without bias or feeling. By speaking out against Sen. McCarthy, Murrow helped begin the act of reporters inflicting their own editorial comment into some news stories. This wouldn’t be such a troublesome thing, except for the fact that all news media is owned by bigger corporations and more powerful people, with their own agendas.
This, coupled with the fact that people are followers by nature, can cause a mob mentality in what should be believed or what is considered news. This is evident in today’s society by turning on any news program in the past week. Apparently, all of America thinks that the death of Anna Nicole Smith and the subsequent search for the father of her baby, is a major news story. The reality is, many people couldn’t even remember who Anna Nicole was, let alone care about her death, before the mega-media blitz of the past week. It’s when serious news media, such as CNN, broadcast non-stop coverage of a news story such as this, that people tend to think that this is what everybody is caring about. ‘It wouldn’t be on the serious news programs if it wasn’t news’, seems to be a common mentality.
It is this group thinking that can cause problems in today’s society. Many times a day, we are bombarded with reports littered with the words ‘terror’ or ‘terrorism’, even though many are just the suspicion of a few people. This fact doesn’t stop people from believing that what is being proposed by the government is necessary since all this ‘terror’ will eventually destroy life as we know it unless the government is given greater hold over our daily lives.