Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Way It Was: Walter Cronkite Remembered

An American icon passed away Friday. Walter Cronkite, once called "the most trusted man in America" has passed away at age 92. He is remembered as the pinnacle of journalistic professionalism and integrity, due to his even-handed reporting of the facts as they are, without spin or hidden agendas ready to leap out and pound the viewer over the head. He knew people expected the truth, warts and all, and that's what he endeavored to achieve.

“Objective journalism and an opinion column are about as similar as the Bible and Playboy magazine.” - Walter Cronkite

This is why viewers trusted him. He stuck to the facts. He left the opinions and spin control to pundits who were clearly identified as opinion providers, not newsmen. There is no doubt that he had opinions, but he recognized the absolute necessity of separating those from his obligation to stick to the facts and report the news as objectively as he could, not only for the sake of his viewers, but to preserve the integrity of the news itself. He defined the role of Anchorman like no other before or since. The term itself was created for him, and no one else wore the title like he did.

This is in sharp contrast to the yellow journalism and petty guttersnipes that have infested the news organizations of today. It is absolutely inexcusable how the press has allowed itself to degenerate to such depths of mediocrity, saddling itself with carrying water for political hacks whose ideals are half-baked at best or worse, place the future of our American civilization in grave danger of collapse and ruin.

Journalism and Mass Communication, as a profession, has sunk to levels of distrust usually reserved for used car or insurance salesmen. Even politicians, the new slave masters for so many "reporters" in the field today, rate higher in the public eye, which isn't saying much at all. How can you report the news and be credible if you're in bed with the very subjects you are reporting on? The line between reporter and commentator has been blurred so much that the two can no longer operate separately. And this has killed the primary objective of journalism: to report the truth.

“Our job is only to hold up the mirror - to tell and show the public what has happened.” -Walter Cronkite

There will never again be another man in whom the American people can trust to tell the truth. What a sad reality we must learn to live with.

And that's the way it is.

Walter Leland Cronkite, Jr.
November 4, 1916 – July 17, 2009

1 comment:

E. S. Collins said...

*applause*

I can't think of a single person who even comes close to his level these days. That's both a compliment to him and a slam against the current state of the media which is really just infotainment at this point.