Saturday, July 18, 2009

Walter Cronkite, R.I.P.

There’s not a whole lot more that I can say about Walter Cronkite, the greatest TV news anchorman of all time, that hasn’t already been said in the last 24 hours since the announcement of his death last night.

I’m old enough to remember Mr. Cronkite’s regular presence on “the TV news” every evening from my childhood through young adulthood. He was truly the standard bearer for an anchorman .... something I’ve come to appreciate all the more having lived through what came later and what persists at an even more debased level today.
No mere newsreader, he was America’s reporter, taking the solid, old-school journalistic skills he had learned as a wire service reporter in World War II and applying them to his decisions, delivery and sense of decorum and fairness to every nightly newscast. He went on location to report and get a genuine first-hand view of what was going on, not as some shallow photo opp. He was as objective as humanely possible – only breaking that on the rare occasion when his common sense and understanding of the pulse of populace dictated that he should do otherwise. He was professional, yet human; dignified, yet dogged. I can’t think of a much higher accolade than to be universally remembered as “the most trusted voice in America” – and for it to be sincere (no mere marketing spin) and true!

There will never be another Walter Cronkite. Not just because of the extraordinary times and circumstances he lived through, but also because of his genuine skills, ethics, humanity, steadiness and charisma.

Kudos to the current CBS news team and anchor Katie Couric for recording a second newscast on Friday night and getting this tribute clip on air during the network’s West Coast newscast.

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