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Refocusing America: American Society Through the Camera's Lens, 1945-2000
Unformatted Document Text:  Implications After Jack Ruby brazenly stood before Kennedy’s assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, and shot him in cold blood before the American public, many accused the media of contributing to the murder. As Goldberg suggests, the preponderance of journalists, photographers, and cameramen at the scene had made the site difficult to control. “…the clamor for access had supposedly forced the Dallas police to stage this transfer [of Oswald] publicly despite warnings that an attempt might be made on Oswald’s life.” 36 While conceding that the police were partly culpable for lax security, Goldberg notes that the media’s omnipresence made the American public uneasy. Discomfort with media presence did not wane. Nixon’s vice-president Spiro Agnew attacked “the liberal establishment press” for driving out the `good’ elements of the political sphere and accentuating the `bad.’ Undoubtedly, coverage of the Watergate scandal was `bad,’ revealing corruption within American government. Undeniably Americans became more skeptical of political officials. However, journalists’ omission of the Nixon administration’s disgrace would have been a marked repudiation of several of the most fundamental tenets of journalism—a denial of the proper role of the media in communicating `news’ to the public. Regardless of the ensuing sentiments of Americans, journalists had a duty to fulfill their function as purveyors of truth. The media is not accountable for the deficiencies of the political process, and thus should not be used as a scapegoat by individuals seeking easy answers to political dilemmas. Pictures in the mass media function as part of the communication process, for better or worse, and a critical segment of communications discourse at that. As Thomas Leonard suggested, they provide a `vernacular’ for understanding society. The visual is the primary mode of contact for human beings. While reading is a skill that must be acquired through instruction and practice, seeing is automatic. Photographs wield the capacity to evoke the emotions of a virtually unlimited audience. When discussing the import of photos in communicating emotion, William White stated: I have been thinking of how the newspapers of the country would handle the mythical story of the collapse of the Empire State Building during the course of an air raid on New 36 Goldberg 222.

Authors: Maurantonio, Nicole.
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Implications
After Jack Ruby brazenly stood before Kennedy’s assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, and shot him in
cold blood before the American public, many accused the media of contributing to the murder. As
Goldberg suggests, the preponderance of journalists, photographers, and cameramen at the scene had
made the site difficult to control. “…the clamor for access had supposedly forced the Dallas police to
stage this transfer [of Oswald] publicly despite warnings that an attempt might be made on Oswald’s
life.”
36
While conceding that the police were partly culpable for lax security, Goldberg notes that the
media’s omnipresence made the American public uneasy.
Discomfort with media presence did not wane. Nixon’s vice-president Spiro Agnew attacked
“the liberal establishment press” for driving out the `good’ elements of the political sphere and
accentuating the `bad.’ Undoubtedly, coverage of the Watergate scandal was `bad,’ revealing corruption
within American government. Undeniably Americans became more skeptical of political officials.
However, journalists’ omission of the Nixon administration’s disgrace would have been a marked
repudiation of several of the most fundamental tenets of journalism—a denial of the proper role of the
media in communicating `news’ to the public. Regardless of the ensuing sentiments of Americans,
journalists had a duty to fulfill their function as purveyors of truth. The media is not accountable for the
deficiencies of the political process, and thus should not be used as a scapegoat by individuals seeking
easy answers to political dilemmas.
Pictures in the mass media function as part of the communication process, for better or worse,
and a critical segment of communications discourse at that. As Thomas Leonard suggested, they provide
a `vernacular’ for understanding society. The visual is the primary mode of contact for human beings.
While reading is a skill that must be acquired through instruction and practice, seeing is automatic.
Photographs wield the capacity to evoke the emotions of a virtually unlimited audience.
When discussing the import of photos in communicating emotion, William White stated:
I have been thinking of how the newspapers of the country would handle the mythical
story of the collapse of the Empire State Building during the course of an air raid on New
36
Goldberg 222.


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