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TAMI Presents: Broadcasting 1968

 
TAMI is proud to present its newest web exhibit, BROADCASTING 1968

The United States experienced significant transition and change throughout the twentieth century, but a particular year—1968—proved one of the most dramatic and consequential to the nation. Fifty years later, we continue to feel its cultural impact. Considerations of why, however, too often undervalue the rise and influence of broadcast television.

In 1950, only nine percent of US households owned a television set. By 1968, the number exceeded 90 percent. Understanding the year, then, requires assessing the critical role of television. And, more specifically, television news. Millions of Americans experienced 1968's turbulent sequence of global events via local and network programming, and subsequent generations process the year through the archival remnants of broadcast history. Importantly, television archives also remind us that 1968 encompassed more than assassinations and war, protests and politics. The year also saw the progenitor of March Madness, breakthroughs in space travel, and a whole lot of the mundane.

Pairing local television and government films, BROADCASTING 1968 considers a range of historic events and cultural trends through the lens of television news. In the process, the web exhibit addresses key questions about both 1968 and today: How does broadcast journalism document notable occurrences? Do archival films offer a different view of an era and why? And perhaps most importantly, who decides what stories are told?

With an emphasis on news produced by Houston television stations KPRC and KHOU, BROADCASTING 1968 also uses so-called local news to complicate easy assumptions about city, state, nation, and world. How do national movements manifest locally, and local events achieve international significance? Houston—a diverse and populous center of industry, art, and government as well as a hub of the American space program—provides a worthy case study.

Enter BROADCASTING 1968 and explore how millions of Texans experienced one of the most transformative moments in modern US history.