CLASS OF 1945 | 2020 | ISSUE 3

In memory of my 1940s faculty masters Cowie, Millet, Snow, and Spaeth I lament: Why is our English spoken so clearly and correctly by Japanese television personnel, but so carelessly and incorrectly by their U.S. counterparts? Why do Japanese interviewers question and challenge guests without the rude self-serving interruptions so frequent on U.S. TV programs? I am horrified daily, even hourly, at the atrocities being passed off as acceptable English in today’s uncivil and vulgar society. I miss the well-modulated tones of Lowell Thomas, Edward R. Murrow, Walter Cronkite, and their kin (Lester Holt included).

Language is a powerful tool, a tool more influential than the lung power and muscle power that dominate today. Television’s prominence places it in a position to present programs with a most positive impact: a more literate audience. Failure to use this tool has obvious consequences: witness the generally sorry state of today’s public school education; the shrill-toned or lip-lazy (folksy?) utterings of congressional luminaries; the inept reading and flagrant misuse of and abuse of language by our president. Well, as someone I value once reminded me, “When anything goes, everything goes.” Is anyone in TV Land actually able to bring it back? Alex, Fred, Wilbert, John, you are sorely missed. Slán go fóill.


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