The passing yesterday of Walter Cronkite is a monumental loss. I grew up on Walter Cronkite. He was a staple for many Americans in a time when the nightly news was designed to inform not entertain. Cronkite was the consummate journalist. He set a standard which for several decades that epitomized news reporting. When I think of Cronkite there are a series of historic benchmarks that he is indelibly connected to.
- The assassination of President John F. Kennedy and shooting of Jack Ruby
- The assassination of Martin Luther King
- The assassination of Robert F. Kennedy
- Reporting of the Vietnam War
- The 1968 and 72 Presidential campaigns – especially the nominating conventions
- The landing of Apollo 11 on the moon
For some time now I have lamented the passing of the high standards of reporting which Walter Cronkite championed. The last decade has seen a an alarming shift in the delivery of news. Cable news has created an ala cart variety of reporting, complete with attempting to not only report facts, but filter the facts and present them in such a way as to do our thinking for us. This has taken place over the years since Cronkite’s retirement. His peers too have moved on and the advent of cable news networks has given us greater speed in news delivery but we’ve sacrificed something significant in the process.
Cronkite’s passing only serves to remind us that while he is gone physically, his work ethic has been missing for some time.
I suppose it is worth mentioning that his death only reminds those of my age how real mortality is when someone who was an American icon for much of one’s adult life is gone.