The Persuasive Power of Television in the 1960’s Essay

The Persuasive Power of Television in the 1960’s Essay

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For Americans, the 1960’s were a time of both unnerving turmoil and exciting change. Following on the heels of the 1950’s themes of tradition and conformity, the contrasting events and attitudes in the sixties constituted a perfect storm leading to a reconstruction of American social, cultural, and political ideals. Although each decade has experienced identifying features, events occurring during the sixties provided for a definitive coming of age era for the United States. While much of this revolution can be attributed to the events themselves, the medium used for disseminating these ideas bears some of the responsibility. Throughout the decade television replaced radio and newspaper as the primary source of news and entertainment. Unlike other forms of media, combining the components of auditory and visual stimulation allowed TV to become a powerful mass media distribution outlet, which uniquely shaped the attitudes and experiences of Americans in the 1960’s.
Each form of mass media distribution endures a peak prior to being replaced by a new source. The popularity of print media as a source of news and entertainment was eclipsed by radio, and eventually Americans turned away from radio broadcasts in favor of television. Prior to the global access afforded by home computers, television provided Americans a wider encompassing vision of the world than print and radio. In 1946 it is estimated that only 5000 U.S. households owned a television; by the 1960’s, 9 out of every 10 homes contained at least a single television set (Steiner 17). While the 1950’s experienced this sudden growth in television ownership, during this period the medium served more as a form of entertainment than as a trusted news source. NBC provided news th...


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... York: Routledge, 2008. Print.
Masterson, John and Thompson Biggers. “Emotion-Eliciting Qualities of Television Campaign Advertising as a Predictor of Voting Behavior.” Psychology: A Quarterly Journal of Human Behavior v23 (1986) : 13-19. Web. 3 March 2014.
McCluhan, Marshall and Bruce R. Powers. The Global Village: Transformations in World Life and Media in the 21st Century. New York: Oxford University Press, 1989. Print.
Morgan, Edward. What Really Happened to the 1960’s: How Mass Media Culture Failed American Democracy. Kansas: University Press, 2010. Print.
Small, William. To Kill a Messenger: Television News and the Real World. New York: Hastings House, 1970. Print.
Roe, Yale. The Television Dilemma. New York: Hastings House, 1962. Print.
Steiner, Gary. The People Look at Television: A Study of Audience Attitudes. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1963. Print.

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