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CBS News Director Condemns Editorialized TV Commentaries


John F. Day, News Director of CBS, last night explained his alleged censorship of commentators Edward R. Murrow and Eric Severeid, stating that journalists must have "the will and intent to be objective."

"I decided that Severeid's script was editorial, not analytical," Day continued. "There was no time to rewrite it, so we kept the program off the air."

Speaking to the Career Conference on Journalism, he pointed out that listeners "must be allowed to draw their own conclusions from television news analysis. It is not like editorial writing, where you first decide what is right and then marshal your facts."

Sevareid's broadcast criticized the State Department for refusing to permit U.S. newsmen to enter Red China, while a broadcast by Murrow on the same subject was criticized for "editorializing."

Day stated that a television network, which is composed largely of privately owned stations, has no editorial voice. "I feel, however, that private stations have the right and the opportunity to editorialize," he said.

Louis M. Lyons, moderator of last night's Conference, commented that the "Spectrum System," which gives network time to different commentators' views, tends to "compartmentalize" television audiences. He explained that "a listener who wants to hear George Sokolsky, for instance, will listen only to Sokolsky."

Agreeing with Lyons, Day pointed out that "with the Spectrum System, you don't necessarily get the most able men in the business." While admitting that complete objectivity is impossible, he said that CBS policy "calls for analysts who are as objective as humanly possible."

Panelists Discuss Careers

Christopher Rand, a former Nieman Fellow, noted the cynicism among many magazine journalists. "When editors of women's magazines talk to me, they sound like cattlemen discussing cows," he said.

Day, another former Nieman Fellow, recommended that future journalists get a liberal education, followed by at least a year at journalism school. He claimed that "the Columbia University School of Journalism is the best in the country."

Pointing out the need for "experience on a menial level," Day advised graduates in the field to seek employment on a small country newspaper. Journalists who begin as copy boys for city dailies, he added, "are doing it the hard way."

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