Thursday, October 1, 2009

Bill Moyers Journal

Frankly, I don’t watch much television these days. As children of the 1970s, my husband and I joke we were raised by the television. And as a young adult, I continued to watch quite a bit. But when I started law school, the challenges were too great. I tried to cut out (or at least greatly curtail) nonessentials that wasted my finite study time—television was the first to go! My husband and I still watched on occasion until we became parents, but at that point in time we became particularly concerned about the influence on our kids of the ubiquitous violence and sexualized images on T.V. Even if we carefully selected appropriate programs, the commercials were often very inappropriate. And frankly, it just wasn’t too interesting, even with dozens of channels. As a result, we canceled cable when our children were young, and at this point we rarely turn the T.V. on anymore. PBS is one of the few channels we ever watch. The programs are generally of high-quality and are interesting. And we don’t worry about inappropriate commercials. Nonetheless, we are very busy and don’t typically get the chance to watch the same program very often.

With all those caveats, there is very little on television that I can recommend to anyone, but I admit that watching Bill Moyers Journal is a real treat for me. To be completely honest, before we cut out cable and re-discovered PBS, I had only vaguely heard of Moyers and was not at all familiar with his program. Bill Moyers Journal consistently explores compelling topics, and devotes a lot more time to them than the typical sound bite obsessed media. In particular, Moyers explores specific topics by interviewing people who have studied them in depth—policy makers, scholars, activists, journalists and other writers. I love books, so one of my favorite aspects of the program is that Moyers frequently interviews authors to discuss ideas about which they have written. The program is often a great way to learn about new, compelling books. Another appealing aspect of the program is that Moyers focuses attention on perspectives that are usually overlooked in the mainline media. As a result, the program always provides a lot of food for thought.

In my opinion at least, Moyers has an interesting background. Like me, he is from the Lone Star State, and he received his undergraduate education from the University of Texas at Austin. For a time in the late 1950s, he worked as a journalist, then went to seminary and became an ordained Baptist minister in the early 1960s. He subsequently served in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. After his work in government, he returned to journalism as a newspaper publisher, then as an editor, correspondent and commentator for PBS, CBS and NBC. Ultimately, the majority of his career has been spent at PBS. He has been an outspoken critic of the quality of mainline, commercial journalism, and the influence of the right wing media.

As an ordained minister and a person of progressive politics, Moyers has often explored the role of religion in our world and the nature of progressive religious faith. More information about Bill Moyers Journal is available at the link below to the PBS website.

Psalm 40:10 (New International Version)

“I do not hide your righteousness in my heart;
I speak of your faithfulness and salvation.
I do not conceal your love and your truth
from the great assembly.”

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