“Good night, and good luck.”, with the final words spoken by Edward R. Murrow, the movie came to the end. So does his TV program “See It Now”. These program ever accompanied so many audiences spend their nights in the 60’s.
Today, George Clooney’s movie reminds us of the time when the right of the citizens was violated by power, shows us many excellent models of conscientious media people, and makes us rethink the functions of news in society, for politics, as an industry, and for citizens.
The movie shows us the reactions of outstanding media people who have a sense of justice. When an innocent citizen was suspected without evidence and when his basic right and liberty were violated by power politics, they were acute enough to get aware of it and were brave to challenge the power. In his famous “wires and lights in a box” speech delivered at the Radio-Television News Directors Association convention in Chicago, Murrow addressed,
“It is my desire if not my duty to try to talk to you journeymen with some candor about what is happening to radio and television, and if what I say is responsible, I alone am responsible for the saying of it.”
Journalists should also hold an unshakable belief of justice and were also sharp when debating with powers. The movie also shows the heavy workload behind the scenes. As Fred Friendly said in the movie,
“There’s no news, boys, so go out there and make some news. Rob a bank, mug an old lady, whatever – just do something”.
With audiences’ high demand of information, journalists have to supply a large quantity of news also of high quality. News, as an industry,, is facing the problem of demand and supply in every minute as other industries.
Meanwhile, the censorship and pressure given to these journalists are also strict and heavy. Media people are always the first to know the truth, they are given the mission to introduce it to the citizens in their community. Journalists enjoy the freedom the speech, but their liberty of speech is not absolute. It is limited by the company, and may be threatened by forces. Media people should have the courage to defy injustice and force, though they may be facing the future of losing sponsorship and so on, to fight for human right and justice. Even though, they should still practice the tolerance of being criticized and misunderstood.
The movie also starts us rethinking the functions of news in society. As Murrow said in the speech, the functions of news are not only to amuse, to entertain, but also to justify, to teach, and to inspire. In the movie, Edward R. Murrow finally revealed McCarthy’s conspiracy and manipulation, which shows the function of news as justifying. As Murrow said in his speech to the RTNDA,
“Our history will be what we make of it. And if there are any historians about fifty or a hundred years from now, and there should be preserved the kinescopes of one week of all three networks, they will there find, recorded in black and white and in color, evidence of decadence, escapism, and insulation from the realities of the world in which we live.”
Time goes, the news will eventually turn to history, and truth will be revealed finally. The news we are reporting today is the recording of history for tomorrow. Our history is finally what we make it. As people who are responsible for the recording of history, it is also our duty and mission to justify. Doing this is not only for the inviolability of righteousness today , but also for the merits of our later generation.
News can also teach. The mass media nowadays is dazzling and distracting. With the high-speedy lifestyle and increasing pressure, people are looking for ways to relax after work and in front of television. It is understandable but also alarming. Murrow expressed his attitude towards this phenomenon,
“We are currently wealthy, fat, comfortable, and complacent. We have a built-in allergy to unpleasant or disturbing information – our mass media reflect this. But unless we get up off our fat surpluses, and recognize that television, in the main, is being used to distract, delude, amuse, and insulate us, then television and those who finance it, those who look at it, and those who work at it, may see a totally different picture, too late.”
Too much entertaining news and many programs are distracting us and driving modern people away from thinking critically and objectively. While the news which conveys more valuable information is considered dull and boring these days. A piece of good news should contain the value of intelligence and justice. The debate between Murrow and McCarthy is a brilliant lecture for us to gain a deeper understanding of politics, human rights, and liberty.
With the functions of justifying and teaching, news should also inspire its audiences. The courage, the sense of justice, the objectiveness, the cautiousness and the conscientiousness shown by Edward R.Murrow and other media people are inspiring. What we learn from a piece of valuable news is even more inspiring. A piece of news reporting a technological breakthrough may inspire other scientists, a piece of news reporting a social issue may inspire people’s understanding of ethics and morality. Intelligence can be spread and news is the media of the exchanging of intelligence.
News has its irreplaceable status in human history. The development of news influences the development of our whole community. The director and Murrow hold the same viewpoint and want to share it with the audiences.
“I began by saying that our history will be what we make it. If we go on as we are, then history will take its revenge and retribution will not limp in catching up with us. Just once in a while, let us exalt the importance of ideas and information… To those who say people wouldn’t look, they wouldn’t be interested, they’re too complacent, indifferent and insulated, I can only reply — there is, in one reporter’s opinion, considerable evidence against that contention. But even if they are right, what have they got to lose? Because if they are right, and this instrument is good for nothing but to entertain, amuse and insulate, then the tube is flickering now and we will soon see that the whole struggle is lost. This instrument can teach, it can illuminate – and yes, it can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it towards those ends. Otherwise, it is merely wires and lights in a box. “
This movie like an alarm, makes us rethink about the function the news and our future as intellective human beings.“Good night, and good luck.” It is greeting from Edward R.Murrow, but also from hundreds of people devoting themselves into their journalism career. It is also the contributions of hundreds of media people that lead to the progress of society, push the history of human beings and promote the development of human ingenuity.