THE MURROW BOYS by Stanley Cloud

THE MURROW BOYS

Pioneers on the Front Lines of Broadcast Journalism

KIRKUS REVIEW

 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.

Pub Date: May 6th, 1996
ISBN: 0-395-68084-0
Page count: 448pp
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 1996




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