Interview with Richard Valeriani
QUESTION 3
INTERVIEWER:

SOME OF THE UM PEOPLE WHO WERE INVOLVED SAY THAT THE PRESENCE OF CAMERAS ACTUALLY HELPED SHAPE EVENTS. UM, MAYOR SMITHERMAN OF SELMA SAID TO US THAT JUST STANDING THERE, HE'S A YOUNG KID, AND JUST HAVING THE CAMERA ROLLING JUST, YOU FELT YOU HAD TO SAY SOMETHING, UM, YOU JUST COULDN'T SAY ANYTHING. UM, DO YOU, WOULD YOU AGREE WITH THAT?

Richard Valeriani:

I would agree to some extent that cameras helped shaped events. The standard answer however to the question of how much of a roll did the camera play in shaping events is, there were no cameras at the Boston Tea Party. I think that television helped accelerate the progress of a movement whose time had come. When you think back that, blacks could not vote in this country a mere generation ago, that had to change. And that would have changed whether there were tel—whether there had been television or not television. And the press, the wires, uh, newspapers, magazines would eventually have had a similar impact. But it would not have been nearly so immediate. The other thing that television did, and I think is overlooked, it forced the print media to be more honest than it had ever been in covering these events. In the old days the wire service guy would sit there in Birmingham and something happened in Gaston and he'd call up the local sheriff and the sheriff would say oh, these bunch of, these bunch of niggers running around and they ran right into our clubs. Well, you know, and he would write the sheriff's point of view entirely. Television forced them to go there and watch and see what was happening and then they couldn't distort it.