日期:2012-04-01 14:29


BRIAN Lamb could hardly be a more unlikely media entrepreneur—a modest and civilised man in a world with more than its fair share of egomaniacs and vulgarians. But he was a great one nonetheless. He came up with the idea of C-Span in the late 1970s when he was the Washington bureau chief forCablevision magazine. And he presided over its growth from a start-up with a staff of four into a quirky Goliath with a couple of hundred employees, three channels and a radio station.
几乎找不到比布莱恩·兰博更不像媒体企业家的人了——在这个充斥着极端利己主义者与庸俗的暴发户的世界里,他一直保持着谦逊有礼的品质。不管怎么说他都是个伟大的人。在19世纪70年代末时,当他还是华盛顿有线电视杂志社社长时,他提出了C-Span的概念(把公共事务网与有线电视结合起来 )。在他的领导下,一家只有四名员工公司经历跌宕起伏,变成了有数百名员工、三个电视频道和一个广播电台的巨头。
Mr Lamb had a simple idea: to expose America’s public life to the public eye. He persuaded the cable companies to pay for a public-service channel via a levy based on the number of their subscribers. He got the House of Representatives to open its proceedings to the cameras (the Senate followed later). The result has been some of the dullest television in history (think budget proceedings)but also some of the most riveting (like the Iran-Contra hearings).
Mr Lamb expanded his coverage to include presidential press conferences, speeches to think-tanks and the like. He also tried unsuccessfully to persuade the Supreme Court to open its hearings to the cameras. He added a few bells and whistles to his formula; profiles of presidents, interviews with authors, phone-ins with journalists. But he never violated the simplicity principle. The profiles were just-the-facts. The interviews were spartan. The hosts were resolutely non-partisan. C-Span remained an island of sanity in a media world increasingly dominated by braying bigots.
Mr Lamb’s “Booknotes” (“One author, one book, one hour”) was the ultimate showcase of his style. He specialised in asking short, direct questions with sometimes hilarious results. One famous exchange with Martin Gilbert, a British historian, involved the question of whether Winston Churchill had ever engaged in buggery:
Lamb: Why was he accused of buggery and what is it? Gilbert: You don’t know what buggery is? Lamb: Define it, please. Gilbert: Oh dear. Sorry, I thought the world would—buggery is what used to be called an “unnatural act, of the Oscar Wilde type” is how it was actually phrased in the euphemism of the British paper. You don’t know what buggery is?
David Brooks, a New York Times columnist, once called this “the quintessential C-Span moment”. May there be many more.

  • modestadj. 谦虚的,适度的,端庄的
  • nonethelessadv. 尽管如此(仍然)
  • quirkyadj. 古怪的;离奇的;诡诈的
  • hilariousadj. 欢闹的,愉快的
  • unlikelyadj. 不太可能的
  • levyn. 征税,召集 vt. 征收,发动(战争 vi. 强收
  • ultimaten. 终极,根本,精华 adj. 终极的,根本的,极限的
  • entrepreneurn. 企业家,主办者,承包商
  • exchangen. 交换,兑换,交易所 v. 交换,兑换,交易
  • definev. 定义,解释,限定,规定