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Walter Cronkite - A Journalist's Journalist

Updated on July 17, 2009

The Day The News Business Died

 NEW YORK - Walter Cronkite, who was a journalist, an anchor, and the most trusted man in America, died today, July 17, 2009. Mark this date on your calendar, because henceforth, news will never be the same.

Cronkite had a personal touch that reached out to people. He had a face that looked like your favorite uncle, the one you hope would come to the family reunion. He was a journalistic purist who felt that even if he had an opinion on the subject he was covering, as a journalist it was his duty to report just the facts.

Brian Williams, Anchor and Managing Editor of NBC Nightly News, spoke by telephone to Rachel Maddow during her 9 p.m. cablecast on MSNBC about Cronkite. Williams, who replaced another icon whose star could not quite shine as brightly as Cronkite's - Tom Brokaw - said one thing he knew bothered Cronkite enormously was the degree to which opinions had become a regular part of television news.

I worked as a professional journalist for eight years, and earned a master's degree in journalism in the process. I was trained by journalists who no doubt were inspired by Cronkite, because even now, years after I left the daily newspaper grind behind, I am still disturbed when I watch television broadcasters spouting off their incessant opinions. So in a way, when I think about the man who just died at the age of 92, I feel as if a champion of true journalism has faded off into space and time.

Even though I was a young child when Cronkite retired from the anchor's chair at CBS Nightly News, I was sufficiently aware that he was a man to be respected and revered to feel a sense of sadness when he retired from the news business. I feel that same remorse now, as I think of his passing.

Maddow asked Williams if he thought there would ever be a journalist who would be so respected and revered as Walter Cronkite, and Williams said no. Cronkite came from an era before Cable Television dramatically altered the television medium. There were ABC, CBS, NBC, and that was it. ABC and NBC were left to duke it out for second place, because no one could touch Cronkite.

Today, says Williams, Americans have become too fragmented to be swayed by a person the way they were by Walter Cronkite. Newspapers are dropping in circulation, news channels are losing market share, as more and more channels appear on cable lineups, watering down the potential audiences.

So if Williams is correct in his assessment of Cronkite's legacy, I am afraid to say that this day - July 17, 2009 - will be the day that the television medium began its ultimate decline into obscurity.

I used to joke that I was once a journalist, then I became a politician, all I needed was a law degree and everyone could hate me. The humor of the joke is in the fact that journalists of today are no longer respected the way they were when Walter Cronkite held sway in the anchor's chair at CBS.

Rest in peace, Mr. Cronkite. You will be sadly missed.

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    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago

      You have written a wonderful eulogy for the dearly departed. I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiments you expressed so well. RIP

    • hafeezrm profile image

      hafeezrm 7 years ago from Pakistan

      Very informative.

    • fishskinfreak2008 profile image

      fishskinfreak2008 7 years ago from Fremont CA

      It's sad, but unfortunately, we could have seen it coming as he was 92. It's very sad, but we can appreciate the fact that he lived to a ripe old age and he had a very productive and illustrious career.

    • tony0724 profile image

      tony0724 7 years ago from san diego calif

      I think for Walter Cronkite to be called the most trusted man In America says all that needs to be said about him . I grew up watching this guy as a war In Vietnam was going on while I was a kid . Then Watergate , and also seeing a man step on the moon . Walter Cronkite Is as much a part of history as all these events . May he RIP . Another American Icon gone .

    • crashcromwell profile image
      Author

      crashcromwell 7 years ago from Florida

      Thanks for your comments, folks. I am of the belief that when a man of his stature passes on, something must be written. Walter Cronkite redefined the news business, and gave aspiring journalists an incredibly high goal to reach. People with half his skill and integrity could still be considered great men and women.

      Jim Henry

    • G-Ma Johnson profile image

      Merle Ann Johnson 7 years ago from NW in the land of the Free

      Yes this was a very nice tribute to a wonderful Man..Rest In Peace Sir...:O) Hugs

    • crashcromwell profile image
      Author

      crashcromwell 7 years ago from Florida

      Thanks for dropping by and for the comment G-Ma Johnson!

      Jim Henry

    • Storytellersrus profile image

      Barbara 7 years ago from Stepping past clutter

      Learned a lot about Cronkite and about you, crash. Thanks. I guess we were lucky to have him for 92 whole years- I wasn't aware that he had achieved such an old age. Nicely done.

    • profile image

      Corinne Elanie Cronkite-Ouellette 5 years ago

      Thank you everybody for your kind words. It means alot to me.

    • crashcromwell profile image
      Author

      crashcromwell 5 years ago from Florida

      Thanks for the comment, Corinne. When I saw the name Cronkite, I wondered if you were a relative. I just googled your name and see that you are apparently 12th cousins, is that correct? At any rate, I am pleased that you enjoyed this tribute to Walter Cronkite. Even two years after his passing, it is sad.

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      Jayhawk 2 years ago

      That's the best answer by far! Thanks for coittnburing.

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