My memories of Walter Cronkite are pretty much the same as most folks; I got the news from The Most Trusted Man in America. That’s not a title you get being good at what you do. You have to be the best and nobody did broadcast news better than CBS when Walter Cronkite was its face and more importantly, its voice.
Every night at 6:30 pm, while the kids were eating in the kitchen, our mom and dad were in the living room dining on trays and watching The CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite. Sure we trusted Cronkite, but more importantly we believed him.
Was I inspired by Cronkite? Certainly I was. To not be would be like trying to play jazz and not be inspired by Duke Ellington.
No one person inspired me to become a journalist. A lot of persons did from professional journalists to college professors. But Cronkite came into our homes five nights a week and told us what the news was. Later we would learn there’s a difference between what the news really is and what we’re told it is, but Cronkite never lost the trust he earned and never betrayed it.
There’s only a handful of people I can say I’d be intimidated to meet. Walter Cronkite makes the list. I can’t say whether he was the best journalist, but he was the most admired and the one that set the gold standard for others to follow.
For those too young to remember Cronkite, let it suffice to say if you’re getting your news from the likes of Lou Dobbs, Jon Stewart or God help you, Faux News, you’re never going to know what it is you missed out on.
It doesn’t matter if you worked in television, radio, newspapers, or any other medium where solid, straight-forward journalism was practiced and preached. If Walter Cronkite isn’t one of the guys in the business you respected, you’re in the wrong business.
A man dies. A legend lives forever.
That’s the way it is and that’s the wayWalter Leland Cronkite was.