6 o’clock was as religious as my parents ever got about anything really…
You know what I mean…
The dinner was simmering or roasting or something-ing, while we gathered in the Family Room to watch the national news, like so many middle-class North Americans did back then.
And God forbid you talk while it was on!
I’m little, and news items on Barbie-dolls was pitifully low back then (duh!), so I had little use for this self-proclaimed “Hour-of-Power”; yet somehow in my indifference, I knew to be reverent of that hour and the adults who sat faithful in their easy-chairs, glued to their TVs.
You know what I mean…
Men, and ONLY men, with their Bryl-creamed, combed-back hair, those Manhattan frame eye-glasses, those thin ties (or thick, if it was the 70s!), who sat legless behind non-descript desks full of phones, papers and desk-top microphones, with little more than a slide projector image for your audio-visual enjoyment, who reported the events of the day in a simple, concise way, smoking their cigarettes from their smouldering overfilled ashtrays, live on TV, giving ONLY the facts and the details of each event, while we, the naive public trusted that that was all they would give us.
You know what I mean…
For Canadians back then it was good old Harvey Kirk on CTV;
for Americans, it was Walter Cronkite.
These men were a man’s men. Solid. Strong, Dependable.
Sure, Harvey was a closet alcoholic who eventually couldn’t keep it in the closet, and as such was booted from the lead anchor chair at CTV News.
But Walter outlasted almost everyone in the business and chose to retire on his terms, as few have ever had the chance to do.
Many back then made a name for themselves covering the JFK assassination in Dallas; from Dan Rather of CBS news to
of the now famous PBS MacNeil/Lehrer Report.
Even Canada’s own cub reporter
Peter Jennings made a name for himself on that infamous day that newsmen still describe as a media Perfect Storm.
But the smoking that the Dallas anchorman did while interviewing Abraham Zapruder on live TV, on November 22, 1963, is no more.
The rumpled off-the-rack suits are replaced by $2000 tailored Armani's.
The Brylcream is all gone, and so is the domestic need for doilies on easy chairs because of it.
The ties have been a constant width for many years now, all made of the finest silk when you knew back-in-the-day they were Wash’n’Wear Polyester.
And nobody but nobody, on a day full of disaster reporting now, will roll up his or her sleeves and look like crap, even if they’ve been on live for hours.
Sure, the news biz is more flashy and polished on the outside, but have you noticed, that there is very little “news” left in the news anymore?
What we are all inundated with are polished talking heads, who have every audio-visual device known to man, talking on everything but the facts, spewing out instead entertainment and politically-biased editorial verbal diarrhoea and couching it in a way that the uneducated masses accept as actual news.
The old men of the past are no more and that trusted 6 o’clock religion has been replaced by a wholly untrustworthy form of global gossip – the 24/7 disaster and the Who’s Who Trash and Bash - with anchormen looking less like newsmen and more like celebrity divas, who don’t look like they’d last one minute in the cramped congestion and chaos of the 3rd floor of the Dallas Police station that the men of old easily withstood.
And although the politics of news reporting has always been the backbone of every news agency, that fact used to be hidden from the viewer. Now, we have right-wing agencies bashing left-wing ones, the news reporting taking a backseat to the ratings grab.
When Walter Cronkite was covering an unfolding story, he would tell us viewers, to our faces, to hang on for a sec, while he took a phone call or got a teletype message.
Today such human imperfections are hidden from view, whitewashed with commercials and camera switches, forever sterilizing the anchorman and his message.
Back then, we knew when an editorial was an editorial because Hell, they told us so.
Now, the line between news and opinion has been forever eradicated, the viewer’s trust of that anchorman to give us the unvarnished truth forever eradicated as well.
And how did we, the children of our parents, decide to fight back in this world of the 24/7 non-news news?
We began to blog, my friends. Pure and simple.
We so grieved for the loss of that sacred hour, that we pulled up our own sleeves and hit the pavement ourselves, a decades long thirst in us needing to be quenched for a telling of the world’s events as they are and not what talking heads say they are.
We are now, each and every one of us, the Kirks, the Cronkites and the Rathers of yester-year, and though as unprofessional as it may seem, word by word, byte by bye, we bloggers are offering the unvarnished truth, as that drink of water our generation has been dying for, for so long.
In this 21st century, the learned people watch TV and its “news” shows for the entertainment value. For the real news they hit the Net. Pure and Simple.
Maybe, slowly, as time marches on, that 6 o’clock religion will seep back into our homes, and the children’s children of our parents, playing with their now computer-enhanced Barbie-dolls on the floor, will know to keep quiet once again while Daddy fires up the old ‘puter in search of that precious “Hour-of-Power”, you know the one I mean, the one where a man’s man tells it like it really is, for at least an hour.
Do you know what I mean?