Friday, July 17, 2009

"... and that's the way it was..."

Walter Cronkite, 1916-2009.

Taking over the CBS News anchor desk in 1962 was close to perfect timing. What did he get to tell us about?
- Kennedy assassination
- Civil Rights movement
- moon landing
- Vietnam - both the war & the anti-war movement
- King & RFK assassinations
- Watergate
- the Beatles

... and it was a good time to be in broadcast journalism technologically: the advent of satellite communications, with the microchip just around the corner.

Tho' my memory ain't that great, I don't recall Cronkite - or Huntley/Brinkley, or Reasoner - being either fawning or combative towards the regime. Since I never watch network news today, all I've got for comparison is KO's & BO's shrillness - tho' neither of them really pretends to be a 'journalist'.

For what it's worth, the myth of journalistic objectivity is just that - a myth. For most of the free press's history it has been dominated by parties. Perhaps the mid/late 20th century will stand out to future historians of journalism as an aberration, during which 'news' was supposed by all to be 'objective'.
Simply in choosing which stories to report, which to put on page 1 - or to put at the top of the broadcast - journalists, editors, & producers exercise arbitrary, subjective judgement.

Rest in peace, Mr. Cronkite.

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