Earth Day 1970: That's The Way It Was

Here's the first three or so minutes of CBS News' special report from the first Earth Day in 1970.

People saying we need to stop polluting -- that hasn't changed. But TV news? That has. Just from this clip:

1. It opens with static footage of a guy giving a speech. For 25 seconds. If that doesn't sound long, it is three times as long as the average presidential-candidate sound bite these days.

2. It cuts to Walter Cronkite...on a set with the production values of a middle-school A/V Club. Most viewers probably spent the time wondering how he got into the middle of that cheap-looking desk. But rest easy: There are two phones nearby in case of emergency.

3. Just to make sure viewers have time to notice the utterly unchanging visual, Cronkite drones on for well over a solid minute of just looking to the camera and talking with an Earth Day logo behind him. Come on -- we watch a lot of C-Span, and even that is more dynamic visually than this.

4. Cut to Bruce Morton, looking utterly miserable and abandoned on the side of some highway.

5. Morton stands frozen, looking into the camera and talking for yet another eternity.

6. Finally, two full minutes into the report, we get a shot of something other than a white guy talking into the camera. People on bikes!! Movement on screen!! Viewers must have startled off their plaid colonial-style sofas.

We're not saying this is bad, really, just that it sure is different.

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Richard Connelly
Contact: Richard Connelly