Friday, July 17, 2009

Off Topic - Walter Cronkite (1916-2009)

Walter Cronkite was a journalist in the best sense. He was one of the last of the old guard of newsmen, the kind who wrote well and spoke well. There was no nonsense about him. He did not attempt to ingratiate himself with inane "happy talk" or overly dramatic showmanship. He kept his opinions to himself, until it really mattered, and then he gave us his most simple, and honest, assessment. He had courage. He had eloquence. He had class. His passing is worth noting not only for the value of his place in American journalism and popular culture, but mainly because there seem to be absolutely no broadcast "journalists" today who even try to emulate him. The courage, the class, and mostly, the eloquence, is gone. Delivering the news has become an obnoxious standup routine.

Listen to his voice on this audio excerpt in a thoughtful summation of an historic event, the enormity of which today would be lost in a sea of sophomoric acting for attention by "journalists" with eighth grade vocabularies performing on frenetic, circus-style techno studio sets. "Journalists" who no longer seem to have the dignity and the discipline of that old guard which would not dimish the importance of the day's events with shredded English and an appalling reliance on celebrity news. Listen to his voice, the style and the substance. It's all the razzle dazzle we really need.

4 comments:

John Hayes said...

Ah, those were different times. Tho I grew up in a "Huntley-Brinkley" home, I certainly know Cronkite's stature as a journalist; & you're right--TV news these days is an appaling show biz production. Excellent post.

Jacqueline T Lynch said...

Hi, John. Different times, indeed. We were predominantly a Huntley-Brinkley home as well, but channel surfed. During important events we'd scrounge up a spare black and white portable TV and watch more than one newscast at a time.

One of my mother's memories of the JFK assassanation reporting (one of many memories) is seeing that first Cronkite bulletin live while she was ironing. Almost as shocking as the news was seeing Mr. Cronkite in his shirtsleeves, near tears. Different times, indeed.

There will be many tributes to Mr. Cronkite and his age of broadcast news this weekend, but little done to emulate them, I'm afraid. All the tributes will ring a bit hollow when it's back to show biz on Monday.

PerfectMomentProject said...

if you gotta go off topic, this is a great one..

Walter Cronkite really was the second most important man in my life.

Both he and my father gave me a passion for journalism. And Mr. Cronkite welcomed me in to teach at the school named after him.
We met soon after I was hired at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications at ASU.

He said he had heard about me joining the staff, and was excited that I would be able to share my knowledge with the students. He said just teach them well, and I have taken that to heart.

Jacqueline T Lynch said...

Welcome, and thanks so much for sharing your connection with Mr. Cronkite. I would encourage all our readers to follow your link to the Perfect Moment Project blog, it's a great site of warmth and inspiration.