[Change in the arts]

Sunday, February 05, 1956

This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.

Communications arts is constantly changing. One consequence is that as soon as you find the answer to one question, you find that you raise more questions. Ethical standards in communications arts are still developing. Latest development is televising of the White House press conference. Seldes is neutral on this matter. Reads article by editorial writer of the New York Post. Seldes precedes reading by saying the New York Post is not neutral, the metropolitan newspaper devoted to the cause of the New Deal and Democratic party. "This isn't a live television show, it's a carefully edited documentary." Censorship has nothing to do with national security; it has to do with Republican security. Many questions asked were deleted before the conference was broadcast. Calls it a GOP propaganda project. The original question: whether television should be governed by the rules and laws developed for the newspapers or if new ones have to be developed instead? President speaking "off the record." If he's going to be frank and he's going to take a chance, you have to allow him some leeway to make corrections. Don't care for the kind of stuffiness like is practiced by the British Prime Ministers before Churchill. Should the president put the press conference on the air while it is happening? Is it right to put out an edited version? Seldes says yes. The catch is that the edited version is offered as if it is the real version. These hearings are casual, not directed. Doesn't think all the errors must be exposed to the public. Bing Crosby started the practice of recording shows in advance and having them played later. The real vs. the apparent real.

Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection

WNYC archives id: 70371
Municipal archives id: LT6412

Hosted by:

Gilbert Seldes


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About Lively Arts, The

Legendary critic and author of The Seven Lively Arts Gilbert Seldes discusses big-thinking issues in art and life from his characteristically populist perspective.

Simultaneously a timely and visionary program, Gilbert Seldes's The Lively Arts (1953-1956) examines contemporary issues of 1950s television, radio, and theater, as well as current events and the intellectual arts. Seldes, who was the first Director for Television at CBS News and the founding Dean of the Annenberg School of Communications at the University of Pennsylvania, was also a renowned critic, author, playwright, and editor. As a major social critic and observer, Seldes viewed theater, television, and radio with a prescient eye to the future based on a well-informed understanding of the past. 

These programs feature commentary and discussion on a wide range of topics — from sex and censorship in the movies to progressive education to juvenile delinquency to political campaigning on television — many of which are still hotly debated today. Serving as a precursor to Seldes's television programs and providing an audio context for his seminal books, this show is key to understanding today's cultural commentary.


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