Newton N. Minow
It is useless to send armies against ideas.George Brandes
Speech to the National Association of Broadcasters, May 9, 1961 (the Wasteland Speech)
- When television is good, nothing--not the theater, not the magazines or newspapers--nothing is better.
But when television is bad, nothing is worse. I invite you to sit down in front of your television set when your station goes on the air and stay there without a book, magazine, newspaper, profit and-loss sheet or rating book to distract you--and keep your eyes glued to that set until the station signs off. I can assure you that you will observe a vast wasteland.
- What do we mean by "the public interest?" Some say the public interest is merely what interests the public. I disagree.
- We need imagination in programming, not sterility; creativity, not imitation; experimentation, not conformity; excellence, not mediocrity. Television is filled with creative, imaginative people. You must strive to set them free.
- Sending communications satellites will be much more important than sending man into space because they will send ideas into space. Ideas last longer than men.
- We've got a real irony here... We have politicians selling access to something we all own— our government. And then we have broadcasters selling access to something we all own— our airwaves. It's a terrible system.
- Complete text and audio of Minow's speech from AmericanRhetoric.com
- Maclean's article, June 17, 1996
- "Update" April 24, 2001
- "Full text and mp3 file" May 9, 1961
- "Museum of Broadcast Communications article on Minow and the speech"
- "Assessment of the speech by Minow and 24 commentators for the Federal Communications Law Journal" May 2003
- "Interview with Minow about the state of television in 2006
- MP3 recording of the entire Minow speech, "Television and the Public Interest"