July 18, 2009

In Memoriam: The Original Anchorman

Posted in Current Events, In the news, Media at 2:20 pm by R

Walter Cronkite

Walter Cronkite was known as “the most trusted man in America.” He delivered the news of the day with honest candor and pioneered the standard by which we judge all news anchors today.

I never had the benefit of watching Cronkite deliver the news. No, by the time I was around Dan Rather had filled his post. But the news anchors I grew up watching: Brokaw, Jennings and Rather were direct descendants of the Cronkite philosophy of news.

When a respected reporter goes on to the great newsroom in the sky their peers left here have just the most eloquent and wonderful things to say. The best in the business honor each other, because they know it takes all of their great work to keep telling great stories.

Some journalists I truly admire had touching words for Cronkite:

“Cronkite came to be the sort of personification of his era. He became kind of the media figure of his time. Very few people in history, except maybe political and military leaders, are the embodiment of their time, and Cronkite seemed to be.”  — PBS Correspondent Robert McNeil

“Walter was who I wanted to be when I grew up.” —  CBS “Face the Nation” host Bob Schieffer

“Walter Cronkite was and always will be the gold standard. His objectivity, his evenhandedness, his news judgment are all great examples.” –ABC News anchor Charles Gibson

“A giant of journalistic craft.” — Dan Rather, former CBS Evening News Anchor

Cronkite’s passion for news was evident long after he left the desk. He was a bellwether for the status of news, critiquing opinion-lead news and always calling for integrity, accurate reporting and subtle compassion.

He loved his craft and respected it. In 2001, shortly after 9/11, Cronkite spoke words, which, if it’s possible, have more meaning now than ever before with the changing face of news:

“…television, the great common denominator, has lifted our common vision as never before.”

Cronkite delivered the news during some very troubled times in our nation, his news style made him trusted among viewers as he delivered the sometimes difficult news of the day including JFK’s assassination, many reports on the Vietnam War and Watergate. He also brought viewers news of the shuttle landing on the moon.

Mr. Cronkite chronicled stories that have become integral to our history. He covered triumph. He retold tragedy. He was an excellent messenger.

And THAT’s the way it is.



1 Comment »

  1. Momma said,

    As a child in the fifties I watched The TWENTIETH CENTURY with my father. It was an important thing to do – with my father – learning from Mr. Cronkite – as my father answered my questions. Unbeknownst to me at the time, Dad was at Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge, and without my understanding how it was possible, Dad affirmed what Mr. Cronkite was reporting about WWII.

    When on 23 Nov 1963, a Saturday, Jack Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald, Dad and I were watching the television at that very moment. We saw it happen! My father could not move! Could not speak – the ash of his cigarette grew, and bent. Mr Cronkite was our interpreter of that horrid weekend.

    Cronkite’s show, YOU ARE THERE, fostered my love of history, making it vibrant, real and important for me, even as a child. The episode I connected with was the trial of Joan of Arc. How ironic.

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