Televising Congress

April 20, 1953

Report Outline
New Problems Raised by Tv Reporting
Conflict of Democratic Principles
Outlook for Broadened Tv Coverage

New Problems Raised by Tv Reporting

The rapid increase in television broadcasts of House and Senate hearings since the opening of the present Congress is bringing to a head the demands of educators, members of the clergy and the legal profession, and others concerned over threats to civil rights for adoption of fair rules of procedure to govern congressional investigations. The apprehensions of these groups are shared by-many members of Congress, although it is recognized that television can be used to excellent advantage in better acquainting the citizen with the work of his government.

Because it is the more sensational activities of investigating committees which best lend themselves to television coverage, Congress itself needs the protection of carefully conducted hearings if it is not to appear on the TV screen as a place of entertainment. Concern outside of Congress centers chiefly on protection of the rights of witnesses who may suffer irreparable injury when unproved charges are broadcast to a wide and ill-ainformed television audience.

Televised hearings have been said to “accentuate the need for fairness” in congressional investigations because they may be either “a constructive procedure” or “a monster which can destroy innocent reputations”; or again they may be “a three-ring carnival of horseplay, ham acting, and everything but the truth.”

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BROWSE RELATED TOPICS:
Congress Actions
Freedom of Speech and Press
Radio and Television