The Godlike anchorman

I watched the PBS worship of Walter Cronkite last night with nostalgia, fondness and a whole lot of gratitude that there will never be another like him. Alessandra Stanley of The New York Times agrees in a column that basically trashes the whole breed.

But the thing about Walter that was different was that he wasn’t pumped as the most trusted guy in America; he simply was. There was no relentless stream of promos touting him as the greatest (although some did appear later in his career). He earned that position, largely, I think, because TV News was still in its relative infancy. Audience manipulation “rules” hadn’t been written yet, and network anchors were news people first and “talent” further down the line.

In today’s world, the “anchor-as-God” is over and done with — commoditized along with everything else in the TV world. Those who didn’t have the good fortune to be alive during the Cronkite years missed a truly remarkable person in the history of communications. We needed Walter. We needed gatekeepers, because access to information was limited to the few. That’s all changed now, and I believe that’s a good thing.

Nevertheless, Walter Cronkite was a big part of my early life, and I’m happy to have been there for the sense of security in “and that’s the way it is.”


  1. Terry,
    I missed the documentary. I will try to catch it in a re-run. I so agree that I was privledged to live during Uncle Walter’s era and in that era of broadcasting in general. I miss just seeing “the news,” and nothing more. That is also why I always admired the BBC in the day when you would hear, “And now the news, read by…” No slant, no hype, no gratuitous graphics thrown up all over the screen. Even CNN Headline news has surrendered from just “the news,” and has gone to glitz and blitz newscasting. Sad, really sad.

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