Saturday, July 18, 2009

Walter Cronkite (1916 - 2009)

Like many of my generation, I grew up listening to the unique vocal tones of Walter Cronkite. He undoubtedly had one of the best voices in all of broadcasting.

I best recall him from watching that often-blurry image on my parents' black-and-white television set. The following is permanently etched into my memory, perhaps for you as well:

Of course, today's newpapers are filled with stories about the passing of Walter Cronkite, particulary as a witness to history. No doubt, we'll be seeing lots of television specials on the topic of this man, particulary on CBS. Most of what we will see will be a rehashing for those of us who grew up hearing the voice of Walter Cronkite as news anchor. We'll experience nostalgia which the present generation cannot possibly feel about this man.

In today's Washington Post, I noticed this interesting portion:
In later years, as he watched from the sideline, Cronkite became a critic of the evening news. "Nobody's asked me, which is strange, but I think the networks ought to be doing the headlines -- compressed as they must be -- and no features," he told me in 2002. "Drop that 'Your Pocketbook and Mine,' 'Your Beauty and Mine,' 'Your Garbage Can and Mine.' "

He also decried the staffing cutbacks as the networks shrank their evening news staffs, saying: "It's a dollars-and-cents issue with the ownership. There's not the sense of responsibility of the old-timers who were taught this was their duty."
Walter Cronkite's views and mine did not always agree. And I recognize that, even as an anchor, he had an agenda. On this topic of the deterioration of broadcast news, however, I believe that he was spot on. Viewers today want flash, not substance. Furthermore, the anchor's voices sound pretty much the same and not unique.

"And that's the way it is" with the media today, some twenty-eight years after Walter Cronkite retired.

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posted by Always On Watch @ 7/18/2009 10:38:00 AM