To See Is To Feel: Television’s Impact on Journalism


They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Through an image, we can see every detail. Through an emotion on a person’s face or the  chaos in surroundings, a picture is a story and a memory forever preserved in history. And when the genre of journalism decided to take advantage of it, not through just still pictures but through moving ones, they opened up a door to events for the whole world to see.

Television not only let people know about things happening around the world and within America, but it gave them an up close and personal view of it. It helped them relate and see the truth about situations being played at that moment, and through that of being able to see, we begin to feel. We feel the sadness of deaths, the rage of the oppressed, through seeing we are feeling.

It’s always been hard to read about 1960s Civil Rights Movement, due to the fact that I am African American. I was born 20 odd years after it, but by seeing segments of 1960s news I am able to feel as if this misfortune is happening as I speak. This was during a time when broadcast journalism was so fresh and new, that capturing the empathy and reality of a story was the most important thing. And this new sense of direction is what helped this nation change.

Through broadcast journalism an ignorant nation was able to see how unequal their “equal” country really was. Through television screens, American citizens outside the South were catching the lives of a minorities being abused and disrespected as they fought for what every American was supposed to have: Rights. News stations all over were tuned into the goings on of this side of the country, documenting the daily lives of the oppressed and how it was evolving for the best, but majority of the time for the worst.

Credit: Socialite Life

Television played such a role to where people not involved were able to become involved emotionally and physically. People were able to relate to the situation, to feel for the African American society, and want to do something through that. It made the voice of what Southern segregationists thought were small into something booming and earthshaking, and it continued to grow. Soon people were getting involved, making journeys to these towns to march along others side by side towards a future they knew existed. Television helped change a nation.

Families were able to sit down together and listen to the speeches of rights leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr. and become inspired to apply that to their own lives and to tell it to others. Without television, I believe that the fight for civil rights would have taken so much longer because they wouldn’t have made such an impact. Strength sometimes does come in numbers and with numbers people were brought together to fight one cause and break down walls that had been up for centuries.

Advocacy journalism is strong in this world because everyone wants to prove a point. The world tends to think in a black or white manner, occasionally having grey be an option. We tend to understand more when there are sides to pick, and through that we tend to feel more passionate about where we stand. The more people one can collect who supports that same idea his side, the more influence he has on others. This played beautifully in the case of the civil rights movement and with Martin Luther King, a strong advocate. With words, he was able to convince a country of a future that was possible which was full of peace between races, equality among all. With words about a dream he embedded himself on people’s hearts and minds and brought them together. Through screens in every home, individuals were captivated by this man who spoke with passion and hope. And the fact that they could see him speak this dream is what made a difference in the lives of Americans. They were able to feel and that is our strongest (and most life-changing) emotion.

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