Let me speak of something else, and that is taste and standards of taste which are certainly not unaffected by the terrific impact of these great media. I remember my dear old friend, Professor Ernest Hocking, did a little book on the press which he called Framework of Principle. His chief accusation against the press, and this was over quite a long haul – the trend – was, he said, debasement of standard of taste.
Well, it’s pretty harsh, you know. Well now since he wrote that, this great new medium of television has had its far greater impact. I’m not going to accuse anybody of anything, but just ask you to what extent you feel such a medium has a responsibility as to taste, and whether if the critics say the appeal is to the lowest common denominator, there’s any responsibility in television to try to gradually to get that up.
I’m sure you’ve thought about this, whether other people in the business end of television have or not.
Well, the responsibility exists, no one can deny. I would think that any mass instrument of communication can accelerate or retard a trend in public opinion or taste, but it cannot reverse it.
I would think further that if it be true that the broadcasting of philharmonic concerts has in fact raised the general level of music appreciation, that it is equally true that the persistent broadcasting of material of a low intellectual order can depress the taste. I think this is certainly true.
I think it is a matter of in this area perhaps appreciating the old British phrase of the inevitability of gradualness, that gradually tastes may be improved because it will come to be demonstrated that it is profitable and that there is a larger audience in the upper levels than is generally believed. That’s badly put, but –