Doing the history of television in Australia: Problems and Challenges

Taylor and Francis
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Journal article
Jacka Elizabeth 2004, 'Doing the history of television in Australia: Problems and Challenges', Taylor & Francis, vol. 18, no. 1, pp. 27-42.
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Before communication historians rush to jump on to the latest trend an adequate foundation needs to be laid in the economic and institutional history of the mass media. (Gomery, 2001, p.298) [Hlistorical work begins with narrative, but it does not end there. At the time of writing A Social History of British Broadcasting I often wanted to step out of its narratives to comment on them, reflect on them, think about their wider implications, what they showed about the impact of broadcasting in the moment of its decisive development in the form of the BBC. But it was impossible. The thing that had to be done in the first place was to give detailed largely chronological accounts of the formation of the work of broadcasting in the main areas of programme output. (Scannell, 1996, p. 1) I have sought to recapture and to interpret the prevailing attitudes, ideas and policies of the time rather than to reflect the sometimes very different preoccupations of the present .... If I had chosen to do so when I wrote my earlier volumes, my interpretations would themselves now seem out of date, even archaic. As it was, I let people of the time-and institutions-speak for themselves. (Briggs, 1961-1995, vol. 5, p. xv)
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