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Investigated Reporting

Muckrakers, Regulators, and the Struggle over Television Documentary

Chad Raphael

Publication Year: 2005

Investigated Reporting is Chad Raphael's ambitious exploration of the relationship between journalism and regulation during American television's first sustained period of muckraking, between 1960 and 1975. Offering new and important insights into the economic, political, and industrial forces that shaped documentaries such as Harvest of Shame, Hunger in America, and Banks and the Poor, Raphael puts investigative television documentary into its institutional, regulatory, and cultural context. _x000B_Those who see investigative reporting as a watchdog on government will be surprised to find that these controversial reports relied heavily on official sources for inspiration, information, and regulatory protection from muckraking's critics. Based on superb historical research using primary sources, including recently opened papers from the Nixon White House, Raphael exposes the complex play of influence through which investigative documentaries were both shaped and attacked by government officials, and highlights the troubling legacy for contemporary regulation of television news. _x000B__x000B__x000B__x000B_

Published by: University of Illinois Press

Series: The History of Communication


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Title Page

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Copyright Page

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Table of Contents

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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-viii

I am beholden to Chuck Kleinhans, Manjunath Pendakur, Robert Entman, Michael Curtin, and especially Rick Maxwell, for their comments on drafts of this work and encouragement of my research. I am also indebted for their valuable advice to Nick Lawrence, Benjamin I. Page, and David Hesmondhalgh. ...

List of Abbreviations

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pp. ix-x

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pp. 1-14

Classical liberal theorists of the media’s role in democracy, from John Locke to Thomas Paine, saw journalism’s primary mission as serving as a watchdog on government, by checking abuses of power, exposing corruption, and giving citizens the information they need to manage public affairs. ...

Part I. Politics

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1. Investigating Poverty and Welfare

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pp. 17-61

Some of the most controversial documentaries of the 1960s peered behind the image of America’s postwar affluence to gaze at the lives of the poor. Three reports on poverty were most extensively investigated by government forces: Harvest of Shame (CBS, 1960), The Battle of Newburgh (NBC, 1962), and Hunger in America (CBS, 1968). ...

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2. Investigating the Cold War

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pp. 62-105

As noted in the introduction, the dramatic growth of network documentary in the early 1960s was identified with gaining public consent for the Kennedy administration’s activist foreign policy. The New Frontiersmen and network journalists made the global competition between communism and capitalism a central documentary topic. ...

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3. Investigating Business and Consumerism

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pp. 106-140

Broadcast news critics often attacked reports that turned a critical lens on business’s treatment of consumers in the 1960s and early 1970s. The era was marked by a rising consumer politics and a special relationship between the news media and consumer advocates in government, social movements, and the professions. ...

Part II. Representation

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4. Dividing and Distracting the Media

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pp. 143-161

The impact of investigative reporting on policy and public opinion depends in part on how the rest of the news media react to muckraking stories and any countercharges they provoke. The news media provide the main public forum for subsequent discussion of issues raised by investigative reporters. ...

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5. The Ethics of Representation

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pp. 162-188

By the time The Selling of the Pentagon came under fire in 1971, attacks on investigative documentaries had assumed regular enough patterns that former CBS News president Fred Friendly compiled a mock five-step “demolition manual” for use by the aggrieved. It involved enlisting sympathetic federal politicians to decry a report, ...

Part III. Regulation

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6. The Politics of Regulation

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pp. 191-218

In the 1960s and 1970s, the investigative documentary became a crucial battleground in struggles over regulating television news content as old and new actors in the policy process challenged the networks.1 Yet the FCC consistently protected broadcasting against its critics, as did some within Congress and the judiciary. ...

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7. The Privatization of Regulation

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pp. 219-235

Despite the many investigations of investigative reporting, the regulatory regime of the 1960s and early 1970s provided rich soil for the growth of television muckraking. Regulators’ demands for public-service programming helped prompt the networks and local stations to plow resources into substantive reporting, including in-depth documentaries. ...

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8. Media, State, and Investigative Reporting

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pp. 236-248

In the early 1960s, the rising television documentary was buoyed by widespread elite support from political leaders, regulators, cultural critics, network executives, and journalists. By the mid-1970s, that consensus had fractured. What do the growing elite conflicts over the documentary at this time tell us about theories of media-state relations, ...


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pp. 249-296


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pp. 297-304

E-ISBN-13: 9780252092206
Print-ISBN-13: 9780252030109

Page Count: 320
Publication Year: 2005

Series Title: The History of Communication
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OCLC Number: 815477942
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Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Documentary television programs -- United States -- History and criticism.
  • Television broadcasting of news -- United States.
  • Television broadcasting policy -- United States -- History.
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