C-SPAN Founder Lamb Looks at Past & Future of Network at Economic Club


Presidential Medal of Freedom winner and famed journalist Brian Lamb began Wednesday’s Economic Club of Indiana presentation in Indianapolis by poking fun at the C-SPAN networks he created and runs. The audience rolled with laughter as Lamb played satirical journalist Jon Stewart’s commentary on the admittedly dry nature of C-SPAN’s 24-hour congressional coverage.

With all joking aside, Lamb, a Lafayette native and Purdue alum, used archived C-SPAN video to share a variety of Hoosier success stories. Lamb demonstrated the massive archives’ true value with his uncanny ability to connect incredible happenings with the often tiny details of their origin. Lamb recently made C-SPAN’s entire 30 years of video history free and available online in hopes that educators will start making similar connections for young minds.

Going where cameras have never gone before

C-SPAN is regularly credited with gaining unprecedented government access for all media outlets – increasing the public accountability of elected officials. Not all of this access has been welcome or easily won.

“Our whole effort is public meetings and you would be surprised how hard it is to get into public meetings,” Lamb explains.

Lamb described how resistance from congressional leadership has increased over the past couple of years, but stated his belief in the need for private meetings to occur.

The times they are a changin’

Lamb, well known for avoiding even the slightest hint of his personal political views, did comment on broad changes in political media and the increasingly argumentative tone.

“I think we’re probably better off when people are at each other’s throats and challenging each other on bills,” Lamb offered, adding, “The stronger the voices are, the better…”

Lamb spoke of the three networks that dominated news when he was growing up and how much government happened behind closed doors because of the lack of available coverage. He welcomes the advent of blogging and social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter.

One aspect of media evolution that Lamb views as negative is the increasing impact of money on the trade – pointing to Walter Cronkite’s hiring of a talent agent in 1952 as the first link in this chain.

The next Economic Club event is scheduled for Tuesday, May 4 and will feature Mark Miles, president of the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership discussing economic development in Central Indiana. 

Learn more about the Economic Club of Indiana.

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