NPR’s This I Believe

This I Believe started in the 1950s on National Public Radio (NPR). It was a radio program that was hosted by Edward R. Murrow, a popular journalist of the time. The program began with presenting essays by famous people like Eleanor Roosevelt, Helen Keller and Harry Truman, and grew to include essays from everyday people, like cab drivers and secretaries. In these essays, individuals shared, for a few minutes, the guiding principles by which they lived. Because of the time period, a lot of the authors tried to share comforting or inspirational words to the many Americans who were concerned about the Cold War and McCarthyism.

In 2005, This I Believe was revived under the corporation This I Believe, Inc. that was founded in 2004. The executive producer, Dan Gediman, stated the goal of the program to be, “not to persuade Americans to agree on the same beliefs. Rather, the hope is to encourage people to begin the much more difficult task of developing respect for beliefs different from their own.” Essays were showcased on NPR from 2005 from 2009. Two books have also been published that include these essays. This I Believe, Inc. has produced many educational materials as well that are now being used by many teachers to help teach their students the importance of knowing what they believe in and being able to voice your opinion.

When I came across this I was really intrigued at the idea behind This I Believe. In my opinion, this is a really great and unique example of public address. Individuals are encouraged to write about whatever they want, and they are not critiqued or judged for what they say. Tens of thousands of essays have been written for This I Believe. I really enjoyed listening to some of these, especially the first-grader Tarak McLain. I really encourage you to take a look at this and listen to some of the examples provided. In this example of public address, I think it’s okay that these people aren’t professional public speakers. It’s something that was originally started to give people some comfort, something to enjoy. Hearing from other normal, regular people makes people feel like they aren’t alone, and especially during the 1950s that was what the public needed. I think This I Believe accomplishes its goal and is a really interesting form of public address.

-Sarah Ritchey


1 comment so far

  1. kbrickman on

    This is a very interesting and different form of public address. This I Believe demonstrates the unique ideas and views of all individuals in the world. From famous celebrities to high school and elementary school students. These individual’s essays are sharing the core beliefs or values that lead their lives – each very different and inspiring in their own way. In addition, every topic is very different from any other because they are all personal. Through the difficulties of life everyone has their own concrete believes that help them through each day, whether the belief is barbeque food, poetry, or God, for example. This forum of public address is not persuading people to share the same opinions and beliefs, but to have their own beliefs and not be scared to share them. The credibility established is each speaker’s own personal experiences with these beliefs as a core part of their life. Finally, there is certainly a lot of emotion in each essay. They are all very inspirational and moving, and in a sense urge the listener to think and share their own beliefs with the world as well.

    Kara Brickman

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