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Letter: Having a bigger audience doesn’t make us wiser

Edward R. Murrow became one of America’s most respected newsmen, rising to international prominence with his broadcasts during World War II. Dramatically, he started his radio programs in bomb-ravaged England with his signature opening: “This is London.”

Murrow attracted many fellow journalists, who wanted to learn from the giant of news analysts. Among them: Charles Kuralt. Looking back on Murrow’s influence, Kuralt recalled how Murrow conducted informal broadcast “training sessions” in Colbee’s bar in New York City.

The advice Murrow gave the group one evening is well worth listening to now: “Just remember that even though you have a loud voice, even though your voice may reach 16 million people every time you speak, that doesn’t make you any smarter than you were when your voice only reached the end of this bar.”

Apply Murrow’s advice to today’s widespread tendency to share opinions — sometimes quite forcefully — through Facebook, Twitter, websites, mass demonstrations, call-in talk shows and other forums that provide a potential worldwide audience. 

Simply because so many can read and hear our opinions does not make our ideas or prejudices more credible than they were when we used pay phones and talked to one person at a time.

Bill Lampton


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