Walter Cronkite, journalist

Walter Cronkite, journalist July 20, 2009

The Platonic ideal of an anchorman, Walter Cronkite, died at 92. When I was growing up, we would all gather round each evening for the CBS Evening News, and even though there were only four TV channels, the nation seemed better informed than they are today. Because the news had to be sifted to fit the half-hour time frame, the news then was meaty–no celebrity gossip and no fluff pieces–and Cronkite’s sonorous voice explained it all.

One of my wife’s good college friends married a journalist who worked his way up to become one of Cronkite’s writers. I had always assumed that the real work was done by the writers and that the anchorman was just a good voice who read the news that others had gathered and written. That may be true today, with the good voice part supplemented by good looks, but I was informed that this was not at all the case with Cronkite. He decided everything that got on the air. He drove his staff and demanded the best out of them. He was a true television journalist. This writer was in awe of his boss.

Yes, he was liberal, and today we do have access to news from a multitude of points of view, and I realize that is good. But still, Cronkite was a real journalist.


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  • “Because the news had to be sifted to fit the half-hour time frame, the news then was meaty”. That doesn’t follow. The nightly broadcast news still has to fit that time frame, but is decidedly less “meaty” than it was in Cronkite’s day.

    From what I’ve heard, the networks back then considered it a duty — an honorable one, even — to have a good news program, and it was not actually considered in the budget like the other programming was.

    The problem we have today is that news now has to justify its existence in terms of money, so whether it’s the national nightly news, the execrable local nightly news, or even the 24-hour news channels, news now tries far more to entertain than to educate.

    Cronkite is worthy of your praise, but he’s also a product of his time. I’m not sure he’d be able to pull that off in today’s climate. They wouldn’t let him in the door.

  • “Because the news had to be sifted to fit the half-hour time frame, the news then was meaty”. That doesn’t follow. The nightly broadcast news still has to fit that time frame, but is decidedly less “meaty” than it was in Cronkite’s day.

    From what I’ve heard, the networks back then considered it a duty — an honorable one, even — to have a good news program, and it was not actually considered in the budget like the other programming was.

    The problem we have today is that news now has to justify its existence in terms of money, so whether it’s the national nightly news, the execrable local nightly news, or even the 24-hour news channels, news now tries far more to entertain than to educate.

    Cronkite is worthy of your praise, but he’s also a product of his time. I’m not sure he’d be able to pull that off in today’s climate. They wouldn’t let him in the door.

  • fws

    who is today´s most trusted newsman?

    jon stewart of comedy central! that´s who!!!

    http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/.a/6a00d83451c45669e201157130eb25970c-popup

  • fws

    who is today´s most trusted newsman?

    jon stewart of comedy central! that´s who!!!

    http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/.a/6a00d83451c45669e201157130eb25970c-popup