Television news is as old as the medium itself, and the majority of international TV markets stipulate that free-to-air channels broadcast both news and a range of content to satisfy the public interest.
Instead of railing against being told what to broadcast, executives grew to view news as a way to assert the network’s overall esteem and wisdom.
But television of old is exactly that, and the medium is constantly shifting with the times, which is often a turbulent standard to uphold due to the rapid changes in technology. We consume informative television in a new range of ways and have developed a new set of expectations.
VICE News Tonight, currently airing on SBS’s VICELAND channel, strives to provide an alternative to the oversaturated daily news format, stripping the reportage of an anchor and taking the time to, when possible, approach of-the-minute stories with detail from all available perspectives. It’s a subtle yet noticeable shift in packaging and delivery that gives the show a uniqueness in aesthetic and tone.
Two men start talking about serious events to camera
Already the voice of news on radio, Lowell Thomas was the face of the first television news report during the live telecast of the 1940 Republican National Convention, which was only broadcast in New York.
The Thomas of then decided to stick with radio, returning to TV in the 50’s, and so the first real ongoing news show was on CBS twice daily (at 2:30 and 7:30 PM) and hosted by Richard Hubbell, and basically involved the man reading from a script while the edit cut to cutaways of maps or still photographs.
Edward. R Murrow revolutionalises TV news
As featured in Clooney’s Goodnight and Good Luck, chain-smoking newsman Edward. R Murrow headed up See it Now from 1951-58, and became the most important figure in news reportage, largely thanks to his sobering, humanistic, and often hard-hitting attitude towards news.
See it Now was the first show to achieve a simultaneous broadcast from both East and West coast, and is largely credited with spurring current affair behemoth’s such as 60 Minutes. Murrow insisted that news reporters have the responsibility to uphold a standard that meets the public interests,
In other words, be honest.
In the end, it was Murrow’s unflinching take on the world that cost him his popularity, as the network were too apprehensive to maintain blind faith in whatever the pioneer had to say next.
Breakfast television debuts and everyone is ecstatic
Today, still running today (and tomorrow, and the next day), was the first morning news show and aired on NBC in 1952. Without a doubt, the Dave Garroway-hosted mix of news, lifestyle and entertainment solidified a new offshoot to television news: one that viewers had the choice to wake up to over an unwieldy newspaper.
Morning television was factual but fun; news lite that refused to take everything so seriously for the sake of viewers that weren’t really morning people, or just generally needed less dramatic packaging for the sake of their day’s mood.
Television helps end the Vietnam War
Distorting propaganda in Vietnam was markedly more difficult to inflict on citizens to the World War’s or Korea, thanks to the fact that images of war were broadcast on US television for the first time, though not until a while into the war.
Regardless of how long it took for graphic images to disturb your average living-room, it was newsreader Walter Cronkite’s anti-war speech that created a domino effect, beginning with President LBJ, having just watched Cronkite announce to the world he believed Vietnam was “unwinnable”, knowing from that moment that the US had to find a way out.
Renowned US journalist David Halberstam wrote that “"it was the first time in American history a war had been declared over by an anchorman."
News designed for late 80s youth provides an alternative that still flourishes today
Throughout the 80s, a television station named MTV (music television) ensnared the youth of the day with an endless array of these things called ‘music videos’.
In the late 80s, that same station branched out into non-clip programming with MTV News, a rebellious, stylised version of your reliable news show that focused more on what was ‘in’ than ‘in need of concern’.
Since then, youth-oriented news has moved beyond popular culture and contributes to the public’s knowledge base, sometimes, as is the case with VICE’s documentaries, in a harder-hitting and more thoughtful fashion than nightly-news driven television.
Be a part of the ongoing evolution of news with Vice News Tonight on SBS VICELAND at 7pm.