In the early 1950s Edward R. Murrow hosted a radio network program on CBS called This I Believe. During the program, Murrow invited Americans from all walks of life, famous or not, to read and broadcast short essays about their own personal motivation and living philosophies. Murrow’s idea for the program was a result of the effects he saw that economic uncertainty, fear of atomic mass destruction, and McCarthyism were having on our country.
“Opinions can be picked up cheap in the marketplace while such commodities as courage, and fortitude, and faith are in alarmingly short supply,” Murrow wrote.
The show was about beliefs. Not religious beliefs per se, but deep personal beliefs, the things that drive a person.
If I were given the opportunity to submit a short piece for Mr. Murrow, about our industry, this is what I would write:
I believe many in our industry have accepted our present condition and as such have chosen to fight aggressive battles for market share which have eroded profits and competitive advantage as offerings have become commoditized.
I believe uncertainty has gripped many in our industry and is now being threatened by a group of triumphant desperadoes and their monopolistic apparatus preaching profit through convergence. They claim to be working for your betterment, but if you don’t adhere to their rules, you will be castigated.
I believe tyranny often usurps power of the individual in broad daylight to a cheering crowd, not under the cover of darkness. There are only a few who have been willing to stand up and speak out.
I believe of all industries, the print industry, the great democratizer and liberator of the written word, cannot, and should not, ignore the suppression of ideas, of divergent thinking, or the free market.
I believe that the experience of print and the written word is vitally important to our sensibility as humans.
The industry is in a state of flux. And yet in talking with people who believe what I believe, there possibly may not be a better time to be in print if you believe in diversity of ideas, challenging the status quo, and the power of the individual.