By: Nan Robertson
Date: September 19, 1982
Source: Robertson, Nan. "Toxic Shock." The New York Times, September 19, 1982, 30.
About the Author: Nan Robertson (1926–) worked for The New York Times for more than thirty years in Washington, Paris, and New York. She was a reporter and a feature writer. Before that, Robertson was employed by the New York Herald Tribune European Edition and the Milwaukee Journal. Robertson taught at the University of Maryland after retiring. ﾀ
Toxic shock syndrome (TSS) is a rare disease mainly seen in menstruating women who use high-absorbency tampons. It is caused by a bacterial strain of staph. The disease came to the public's attention in the 1980s when women began contracting it. Some victims died. Robertson cites a June 1980 study by the Centers for Disease Control that escalated awareness across the nation. The disease comes on quickly, with a high fever, rash, diarrhea, faintness, and aches. It was frequently misdiagnosed by doctors who were not used to seeing the symptoms or who did not connect the symptoms with TSS.
TSS became the focus of the medical community and Congress. Congress conducted hearings on the...
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" M*A*S*H: RIP"
Date: March 1983
Source: "M*A*S*H: RIP." Life, March 1983, 40–45. ﾀ
Television comedy series had always portrayed war in a farcical or goofy way, until the series M*A*S*H. Previous shows like McHale's Navy, F Troop, and Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. contained loveable and irreverent characters. M*A*S*H presented the comic, the satiric, and the devastating sides of war. Robert Altman directed a movie version of M*A*S*H in 1970 based on Richard Hornberger's book. Larry Gelbart and Gene Reynolds were the first producers and the creators of the television series. Burt Metcalfe took over as producer in the fifth season. The series, which ran for 11 years, was inspired by the movie. Aired on CBS, it was one of the most popular comedies on television between 1972 and 1983. The show was set in Korea at a MASH (Mobile Army Surgical Hospital) unit. Although a comedy, the show integrated dramatic plotlines as well.
The show's mainstays were Alan Alda as Hawkeye Pierce, Loretta Swit as Major Margaret Houlihan, Gary Burghoff as "Radar" O'Reilly, and Jamie Farr as Corporal Maxwell Klinger. Other characters came and went, the most significant being Trapper John, played by Wayne Rogers, and Dr. B.J. Honicutt, his...
(The entire section is 1744 words.)
By: Karen Elliott House
Date: April 14, 1983
Source: House, Karen Elliott. "Hussein's Decision." The Wall Street Journal, April 14, 1983, 1, 16; April 15, 1983, 1, 19.
About the Author: Karen Elliott House (1947–) earned her bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Texas, Austin. Her first reporting job was at The Dallas Morning News. She joined The Wall Street Journal in 1974, where she became recognized for her work writing about foreign affairs. House became president of the international group of Dow Jones & Company in 1995.
King Hussein of Jordan (1935–1999) became the monarch of Jordan following his grandfather's assassination in 1953. The Middle East region has been a volatile area for decades, and King Hussein dealt with several conflicts and crises during his reign. He carried the burden of history with him as he attempted to negotiate peace.
A number of wars throughout the last half of the twentieth century escalated tensions in the region. During the Six Day War in June 1967, Israel attacked Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, and Syria. After capturing the Syrian Golan Heights, Jordanian West Bank, and the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula and Gaza Strip,...
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"NBC Comedy 'Cheers' Has Turned Into a Success"
By: Peter Kerr
Date: November 29, 1983
Source: Kerr, Peter. "NBC Comedy 'Cheers' Has Turned Into a Success." The New York Times, November 29, 1983, C19.
About the Author: Peter Kerr spent fourteen years as a reporter and bureau chief at The New York Times. His major stories were on substance abuse and the cocaine trade. Kerr has worked in communications since he left the Times. He was named the chief communications officer for the Markle Foundation in 2001. ﾀ
The set for Cheers was based on a bar on Boston's Beacon Hill named the Bull & Finch Pub. Like many other comedies that went on to become long-running successful series, Cheers was almost cancelled during its first season. The show went on to become part of the Thursday night lineup of NBC "Must See TV." The plot revolved around the bar and the loveable group of bar flies who hung out there. Sam Malone, played by Ted Danson, was the bar's owner and a former major league baseball player. Coach, the bartender played by Nicholas Colasanto, was the funny guy who didn't realize how funny he was. He died in 1985 and was replaced by Woody, the goofy bartender who was played by Woody Harrelson. The women of Cheers...
(The entire section is 1676 words.)
"Bill Cosby: The Doctor Is In"
By: Todd Gold
Date: April 1985
Source: Gold, Todd. "Bill Cosby: The Doctor Is In." Saturday Evening Post 257, April 1985, 42–44.
About the Author: Todd Gold (1958–) writes about television and television stars. He has coauthored numerous celebrity autobiographies, including those of actress Drew Barrymore and Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys. Gold also edited Comic Relief, which brings together routines by comedians such as Billy Crystal, Robin Williams, Whoopi Goldberg, Dennis Miller, and Gary Shandling. The contributions of these and other comics have helped raise millions of dollars for the homeless since the founding of Comic Relief in 1986.
The Cosby Show broke ground in American television by portraying a normal, upper-middle-class black family dealing with the joys and problems that all families encounter. Prior to its appearance on NBC in 1984, the everyday life of a black family was not part of the usual comedy lineup. A few shows, such as The Jeffersons and Good Times, featured black families, but the humor was not focused around daily life. Rather, it tended to be self-deprecating and counted on the joke for a laugh. Bill Cosby saw a need to change that view....
(The entire section is 2971 words.)
"Thousands Watch a Rain of Debris"
By: William J. Broad
Date: January 29, 1986
Source: Broad, William J. "Thousands Watch a Rain of Debris." The New York Times, January 29, 1986, Section A.
About the Author: William J. Broad has been a science reporter for The New York Times since 1983. He is a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner for his work at the Times. Broad is also the author of several books on outer space. ﾀ
Between 1958 and 1973, NASA launched a number of space flights under the Apollo program. As the next step, NASA envisioned a "skylab" where people could work and live for extended periods of time. This phase was instituted in 1973 and 1974. The space shuttle program was the next step. Budget cuts at NASA and shifting national priorities changed the vision for the program. Instead of a shuttle that would carry people and supplies back and forth to the skylab, NASA searched for alternatives. International agreements were signed, and it appeared that the space program would continue in cooperation with the Russians. The political climate did not allow for the agreement to go forward in the late 1970s, however. The first space shuttle flight of the Columbia took place in 1981, and the program received a boost in...
(The entire section is 3190 words.)
Date: April 21, 1986
Source: "Street Questions." The New Yorker 62, April 21, 1986, 40–41.
Talk shows have been part of the television and radio landscape for decades. Jack Parr, Arthur Godfrey, Paul Harvey, and others popularized different formats of talk shows. Parr and Godfrey are products of the 1950s and 1960s, when talk shows were part standup comedian and part interview. Harvey's commentaries on life, politics, and news in general are part of a shorter format that is not interactive. Harvey's show has attracted listeners since 1951.
AM radio slumped in popularity in the 1970s and 1980s. FM radio took over as the place to find music, current news, and interesting programming. The talk show format seemed like it might be dead. But Larry King changed that with his overnight radio program featuring audience participation. The same was true for late-night television. It was "traditionally a throwaway time filled with direct-response ads for kitchen utensils and trade schools." This changed with King's talk show, Larry King Live, and with Late Show With David Letterman.
AM radio and late-night television became a place to attract listeners and viewers who were "well educated, affluent audiences...
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"Jeff MacNelly: One Cartoon Not Enough"
By: Tricia Drevets
Date: August 30, 1986
Source: Drevets, Tricia. "Jeff MacNelly: One Cartoon Not Enough." Editor & Publisher, August 30, 1986, 38–39. ﾀ
Daily comic strips and editorial cartoons differ in nature and topic. The daily cartoon follows a cast of characters through a story line that generally continues. Characters tend to be stable, and relationships between characters are established through the plot lines of the strip. Editorial/political cartoons comment on current news and social or controversial issues. Several national editorial cartoonists are syndicated in papers across the country, and their cartoons provide commentary on national as well as international topics. Daily comic strips tend to focus on lighter topics.
It is the rare cartoonist who carries off both forms of cartoon art. Jeff MacNelly (1947–2000), however, created both editorial/political cartoons and the comic strip Shoe. The daily strip is planned and drawn ahead of its appearance in the newspaper. While current news and issues appear in some daily strips, like Gary Trudeau's Doonesbury, most are topical. The older cartoons, such as Peanuts, Beetle Bailey, and Hi & Lois, follow the...
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"AIDS in the Heartland"
By: Jacqui Banaszynski
Date: June 21, 1987
Source: Banaszynski, Jacqui. "AIDS in the Heartland." St. Paul Pioneer Press, June 21, 1987. Reprinted in Pulitzer Prize Feature Stories, David Garlook, ed. Ames, Iowa: Iowa State University Press, 1998, 276–277.
About the Author: Jacqui Banaszynski is the associate managing editor for special projects and staff development at the Seattle Times. She has worked as a news reporter for thirty years. Banaszynski also teaches journalism at the University of Missouri School of Journalism and Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Florida.
The AIDS epidemic first struck the United States in 1981. Initially viewed as a disease of gay men, it spread to a wider community, touching men, women, and children from all walks of life. Fear surrounded the disease, and myths abounded about how the HIV virus that causes AIDS was contracted. Educational efforts from public health organizations, schools, and media outlets attempted to correct the misconceptions through facts. HIV/AIDS is spread through needle exchange, sexual contact, or blood transfusions from infected persons. Some health care workers may be at risk because of contact with needles containing...
(The entire section is 1214 words.)
The Making of McPaper: The Inside Story of USA Today
By: Peter Prichard
Source: Prichard, Peter. The Making of McPaper: The Inside Story of USA Today. Kansas City: Andrews, McMeel & Parker, 1987, 1–3.
About the Author: Peter Prichard (1944–) is the president of the Freedom Foundation in Arlington, Virginia. The Freedom Foundation is the home of the Newseum. He worked as editor in chief for USA Today between 1988 and 1994. Prichard has worked in journalism for his entire career in such areas as sportswriting, police and court reporting, assistant city editing, and feature editing.
In the 1980s, newspaper readership was on the decline as cable television increased in popularity. News shows and news channels competed directly with the daily newspapers that had been the source of information for most Americans. Along with the television competition, local dailies were being bought by companies, which resulted in a loss of local control and feel. Gannett, Knight Ridder, and the Tribune Company own most of the newspapers in the United States.
Newspapers began trying to appeal to a broader audience of readers by including feature articles that would be interesting. The New York Times and The Wall Street...
(The entire section is 1728 words.)
"Dialogue on Film: Steven Bochco"
By: Steven Bochco
Date: July–August 1988
Source: Bochco, Steven. "Dialogue on Film: Steven Bochco." American Film, July–August 1988, 14, 16–18.
About the Author: Steven Bochco (1943–) was born in Manhattan, New York and trained as a classical musician. He attended Carnegie Tech in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he received a degree in theater. Bochco has used his combined talents to create, write, and produce television shows which break the rules of genre television.
In the 1970s, cop shows were about detectives in trenchcoats or comedic cops chasing cars. However, the king of the television genre at this time was the sitcom, not the drama. Shows like The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Taxi, Barney Miller, and M*A*S*H were the hits on the three main network channels. In the 1980s, quick-paced dramas based on the more realistic side of life filled the schedule. Quality drama became the norm with shows like Bochco's Hill Street Blues and L.A. Law. Other dramas, such as St. Elsewhere, a show centered on a hospital, also became known for the quality of script and acting. These television shows began replacing the vapid series of the 1970s. Aaron Spelling's Charlie's...
(The entire section is 3864 words.)
"The Importance of Being Oprah"
By: Barbara Grizzuti Harrison
Date: June 11, 1989
Source: Harrison, Barbara Grizzuti. "The Importance of Being Oprah." The New York Times Magazine, June 11, 1989, 28–30, 46, 48.
About the Author: Barbara Grizzuti Harrison (1934–2002) was an essayist and author. She wrote a highly acclaimed book about the Jehovah's Witnesses titled Visions of Glory, a travel history titled Italian Days, and a book called An Accidental Autobiography.
Talk shows were a staple of daytime television by the 1980s. There is not a single format for this television genre. One of the unifying aspects is that the hosts and shows explore topics which are controversial in the public eye. Live audiences are also a part of the format.
Shows are classified as subject-based format, service format, or magazine format. In the 1980s, Dr. Ruth hosted the Ask Dr. Ruth show on the subject of sex advice. Donahue and The Oprah Winfrey Show fall into the service format—providing information for the audience meant to be helpful to their lives. The magazine format includes shows such as Today, Good Morning America, and Sunday Morning. Each of these shows filled a...
(The entire section is 3148 words.)