There is no escaping the fact that I am a Baby Boomer. I have had the privilege of living through the entire age of rock ‘n’ roll because of my chronology. I have borne witness to so much crucial history and countless marvelous discoveries in my 55 years. Through so many of my formative and young adult years, the sonorous tones of Walter Cronkite informed me. Walter did not just deliver the news with integrity, clarity of thought and language, and confidence, he encouraged us to think.
In this time when so much of the media on both sides of the divide are based in shouting each other down with opinions, the role of the journalist is slipping into the void. We lose award-winning journalists from regional and local papers that are struggling. The major papers are folding. We are left with USA Today, “news” generated days in advance and delivered at hotel doors throughout America.
Chris Matthews screams his opinions and he feels it is his right to interrupt if he doesn’t care for what the other person is saying. Rush Limbaugh is just a hateful man profiteering on the fears of those who somehow cannot do the work to think of any side other than their own limited knowledge and belief system.
Walter Cronkite was the person for whom “news anchor” was coined and it became a title, a role, a responsibility. He was articulate yet spoke in a plain language that instilled trust. He set a standard and he changed history in some ways. Do the research yourself if you don’t remember. Thank goodness we still have Jim Lehrer, Barbara Walters, and some like them, those journalists who not only recorded, even made history, but those who exhibit temperance and a resolve for clarity and objectivity. But they are an aging, dying breed and the field of journalism is gasping for air.
I do remember Walter Cronkite as a daily element of the family life. I remember firsthand so many of the seminal clips they are broadcasting this weekend. I remember hearing Walter’s voice comment from every home in the greater Westcott neighborhood of Syracuse, New York, as I walked with my boyfriend, my first love, through the thick evening air of July 20, 1969. It was otherworldly and we knew our world would never be the same.
Blessed be, Mr. Cronkite, and thank you.
That’s the way it is, July 19, 2009.
p.s. Thanks to whomever took this photo. I use it with good intention, although I do not know your name to give credit. I found it on Wikipedia. I appreciate that it was there and I respectfully include it here.