A Vaster Wasteland by Newton N. Minow is such an appropriate article for this time of year and more specifically for this 2012 presidential campaign. Minow recalls the beginning of the presidential debates on television are their short hiatus until 1976. He makes note about his feelings regarding public service television time for presidential candidates. He believes it should be given to all candidates versus creating ads run by money that in return only harm the public. What is missing from this actuality and, from what Minow believes is missing from his speech all 50 years ago, is Public Interest.
Perhaps the most important part to take from Minow’s article and the importance of public interest is his six suggestions for the advancement of the communications system for the next 50 years: Expand Freedom, use new communications technologies to improve and extend the benefits of education at all levels, use new technologies to improve and extend the reach of our health-care system, we must build and maintain a new and secure communications network as a national-security priority, we need to give greater support to public radio and TV and last but most certainly not least on this night, WE MUST MAKE BETTER USE OF OVER-THE-AIR TELEVISION IN OUR POLITICS.
So as you watch the presidential debate tonight, think outside the box beyond what we are accustomed to and what we know and rather think about what can be done to improve the public interest.