Independent Lens

S21 E18 | CLIP

TV's Power to Influence | Recorder

In this excerpt from Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project, activist and prolific archivist Marion Stokes first becomes cognizant of the power of television to inform —or misinform—people when she starts appearing on a Philadelphia public access current affairs show in the late '60s. Stokes' realization of the power of mass media to affect public opinion was well ahead of the curve.

AIRED: June 15, 2020 | 0:01:49

- She became aware of the power of television

to inform or misinform people

when she started working on a television program

in the late 1960s.

It was called "Input."

It was a current-affairs discussion program

by the local CBS affiliate in Philadelphia.

They would assemble experts on a topic--

eugenics, Native American rights,

race relations, prisoners' rights--

with perspectives all around the situations

and have it very publicly available

so that people would be able to form their own opinions.

- Completely eradicate--

- ♪ Walking down death row

♪ I sang for three men destined for the chair ♪

- Marion, how do you view the last nine programs,

as we've sought to make this

an open community type of TV presentation?

- Well, I find some people are certainly grappling with

and not quite understanding how it is that we managed

to get these people together in the first place to talk

and not understanding the concept

of an open community of trust

which is big enough

and open enough to include all the points of view

expressed within a context of respect.

- I've been invited to openness by those who really are saying

by that, "I want to open you so that you'll be able to see

that I'm right and you're wrong."

- Mm-hmm. Most people feel that their viewpoint

is being heard, but they find themselves unable

to accept the open expression of the other viewpoint.

- The power of mass media to affect public opinion

was something that she became very conscious of,

and she was aware of how the raw story gets filtered

by the predilections of the people who are producing it.


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