Posts Tagged ‘old school journalism’

I grew up idealizing journalists. I thought it was a sexy profession — going to war zones, asking the polemic questions that no one else wanted to ask, keeping the “public” updated about what they needed to know — I thought that it was a selfless act of service to the community.

I don’t know where I gathered this idea; I think that there is a smiliar nostalgia for journalism hovering in our collective American subconscious.

Walter Cronkite delivers the news

Walter Cronkite delivers the news

I know that mine was formed from movies like His Girl Friday, and It Happened One Night, where the newspapermen (and sometimes women) were smart, and always knew how to sweet talk their way into a story.

And then there was the other aspect, like Al Pacino in The Insider — the act of public service, the fourth branch of government, the team of reporters who were dedicated to the public, and weren’t afraid to “uncover the truth.”

Walter Cronkite was perfectly positioned in the mid 20th century to represent both.

He was a TV journalist in the days when TV journalism was exploding, making the news more accessible. He grew with the relevance of TV. He brought Vietnam, the moon, presidential elections, and watergate into our parents and grandparents homes.

From his earliest days,” Mr. Halberstam wrote, “he was one of the hungriest reporters around, wildly competitive, no one was going to beat Walter Cronkite on a story, and as he grew older and more successful, the marvel of it was that he never changed, the wild fires still burned. (author David Halberstam, quoted NYT.)

So I feel like it is timely that Cronkite has left the scene just as TV journalism has made itself irrelevent, infiltrated by the entire Fox News Network, and the absurd 15 second sound bites from CNN, NBC, and other megacorporations, which applies itself to almost all of the major print media outlets too. Walter Cronkite brought us the news as the news should be — it wasn’t always pleasant, but it was always something that was needed to know. He didn’t dictate what a person ought to think, but he gathered his own conclusions from his experience and what he uncovered. He was the first news anchor. He certainly wasn’t perfect, but for me, he will always be a man who delivered the news.

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