Cronkite podcast: The Most Trusted Man in America

podcastlogoFor the 54th episode of the Journalism History podcast, host Nick Hirshon spoke to Mike Conway and Amanda Morrow to mark the anniversary of the death of legendary CBS Evening News anchor Walter Cronkite.

Television historian Mike Conway is an associate professor in the Media School at Indiana University; his books include The Origins of Television News in America: The Visualizers of CBS in the 1940’s (Peter Lang, 2009). Amanda Morrow is curator of the Walter Cronkite Memorial in Missouri.

This episode is sponsored by Taylor & Francis, publisher of Journalism History.

Transcript

Mike Conway (00:05):

So that’s why he has kind of this outsized, legendary status in American journalism, because he was the anchor at the period of time when there weren’t a lot of choices, but also his kind of calm manner and the way he presented the news kind of resonated with a good chunk of the public in that period.

Nick Hirshon (00:24):

Welcome to Journalism History, a podcast that rips out the pages of your history books to re-examine the stories you thought you knew, and the ones you were never told.

Teri Finneman (00:35):

I’m Teri Finneman, and I research media coverage of women in politics.

Nick Hirshon (00:40):

And I’m Nick Hirshon, and I research the history of New York sports.

Ken Ward (00:45):

And I’m Ken Ward, and I research the journalism history of the Great Plains and Rocky Mountains.

Nick Hirshon (00:50):

And together we are professional media historians guiding you through our own drafts of history. This episode is sponsored by Taylor and Francis, the publisher of our academic journal Journalism History. Transcripts of the show are available online at journalism-history.org/podcast.

This week marks the eleventh anniversary of the passing of one of the most significant figures in journalism history. On July 17, 2009, Walter Cronkite died at age 92. He had been the anchor of the CBS Evening News in the 1960s and 1970s, and during those two tumultuous decades, his voice boomed through American homes to share the news of one defining event after another, such as the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the space launches, and the Vietnam War.

Whatever the top stories were, encouraging one night and disconcerting the next, Cronkite signed off his reports with the consistent proclamation, “And that’s the way it is.” It was this reliability that endeared him to audiences. Americans selected Cronkite as the most trusted public figure in the country in a series of polls from as early as 1973 to as late as 1995, nearly 15 years after he relinquished the anchor chair.

Upon his passing, the New York Times credited Cronkite with pioneering and mastering the role of the television news anchorman, becoming, in the Times’ words, something of a national institution. Listeners of this podcast are used to hearing one guest on each of our episodes. But today in a special installment of Journalism History, we welcome two experts onto the show, each uniquely positioned to shed light on one of the most popular and well-respected journalists of our time.

In the second half of the podcast, we’ll visit with Amanda Morrow, the curator of the Walter Cronkite Memorial, a tribute with interactive kiosks and wall displays located on the campus of Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph, where Cronkite was born. But first we’ll hear from Mike Conway, a television historian and journalism professor at Indiana University, who has extensively researched Cronkite’s career and interviewed him shortly before his passing.

So Mike, we’re here to talk today about your research on Walter Cronkite and your interview with him. But before we do, there’s now an entire generation of Americans who may not have even heard of Walter Cronkite. That’s sort of hard to believe, but – because he was once the most famous journalist in the country, maybe the world – but he last anchored the CBS Evening News in 1981, which is now forty years ago, and he passed away in 2009, which is more than a decade ago. So for those listeners who aren’t very familiar with Cronkite, maybe they’ve heard of him, but they don’t really know too much about him, can you give us a brief introduction to who he was and how he impacted journalism in America?

Mike Conway (03:57):

Yes. And first, thanks of all, thanks Nick for having me on this podcast ’cause he is a very fascinating person to talk about and people from the twentieth century remember him very well. And mostly people remember Walter Cronkite as the main anchor of the CBS Evening News, which he was the main anchor from 1962 to 1981, as you said, and through the 1970s, he was the undisputed kind of ratings leader. He was the anchor that people turn to. They had the highest ratings through most of that time. And the reason he is remembered so well for a lot of reasons, the way he practiced journalism, but also this calming influence he had. It was a period of time, you didn’t have a lot of choices in the United States for where you got your news. There wasn’t a national newspaper.

So for national news, most people turn to the nightly newscasts. There weren’t a lot of cable, there weren’t cable channels, there weren’t satellite channels, there wasn’t online. So until about the mid-70s, even ABC wasn’t a very strong competitor, so it was either CBS or NBC. So Cronkite was, he was kind of a communal figure. People would watch the news when it was live. That’s how it worked before we could record things. So that’s why he has kind of this outsized legendary status in American journalism, because he was the anchor at the period of time when there weren’t a lot of choices, but also his kind of calm manner and the way he presented the news kind of resonated with a good chunk of the public in that period.

Nick Hirshon (05:35):

Well and then if we go back to Cronkite at the beginning, you, I know, have researched his work during his initial years in the television news at a local station in Washington, D.C., and you described, I thought this was interesting, how his off-the-cuff approach to local news and his eclectic mix of media jobs before he got into TV are important to understand his later success as this top anchor in America. So can you describe what you mean by that off-the-cuff approach that Cronkite had in his early years?

Mike Conway (06:04):

Well, I think one of the things I wanted to bring out in my research, so much had been written about Walter Cronkite. I really wasn’t interested in going into any more research on him at the time. But when I, when I was kind of alerted to this era that he had in local news, it got me interested more on his overall career. And what I learned through my research was, and for maybe people who are journalists now, he was what we would call in many ways in his career, a multimedia journalist. He kind of positioned himself as an old print reporter, an old wire service reporter, which he was. But early in his career he moved back and forth between radio and newspaper. He did radio news, he did sports play-by-play. He was even PR for Braniff airlines for a while.

He was moving around from Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas City, this kind of corridor where he had grown up and worked. So he had all these different experiences before he became the main anchor for CBS and, and all of these kinds of – he, he became this person who was very good at taking a lot of information in his head and then just kind of being able to extemporaneously tell you the news. He didn’t have to have a script. And that was what I kind of studied, an era that really got, has received little attention in his career. When he first got on to TV, he did not use a script. He kind of memorized the news of the day, put it in his head. And then when the, when it was time for the newscast, he would just recite from memory what the news was, with maybe a couple formal names or numbers on a sheet of paper.

But that was how he did the news. And that, I argue, that really made him popular in the 1960s when we had a lot of live events that news was covering where you couldn’t have a script, such as the four days of President Kennedy’s assassination and funeral, all of the space program leading up to the man on the moon in 1969. That really set his reputation, because Cronkite could sit in the chair and just speak extemporaneously for hours and hours on end because he had done his research and all the information was there in his head.

Nick Hirshon (08:23):

I think when I look back at Cronkite’s career, what kind of is amazing to think that there was a point in American history when television anchors weren’t really considered journalists. And you’ve described this, I know, in your research, but for me, growing up in the ‘90s and the 2000s, television anchors were considered some of the best journalists maybe in the nation, some of the more trusted journalists. And of course I watched Dan Rather who you know, succeeded Walter Cronkite on CBS, but I was watching Tom Brokaw on NBC and Peter Jennings on ABC, and they all had this kind of stately appeal at the end of the day. So how did Walter Cronkite sort of change the perception that television could be a legitimate form of news dissemination?

Mike Conway (09:10):

Well, I would argue there’s a couple different ways to look at it. I believe the general public in America, they had caught on to this pretty early on. The general public was watching the nightly news. They were watching it in very heavy doses by the late ‘50s, well before Cronkite became the anchor. So it was the general – the people who really weren’t accepting television journal-, television anchors as journalists were usually more the print reporters. They still felt you had to have a background in print journalism to be a serious journalist. So they – print journalists kind of positioned radio and television as being less serious, more entertainment. And, and the way Cronkite got around that was that he had a solid career in the United Press. He was, you know, he was a World War II correspondent, a fearless guy. I mean, he, you know, he landed in a glider, crash-landed a glider at the Market Garden battles. I mean, he really, he had all the bona fides of any journalists of any stripe from print to broadcast. So that was one of the ways that he could kind of straddle into television to get the respect of the print journalists, because he had been one of them.

Nick Hirshon (10:26):

It’s interesting to think of that background, which a lot of the television anchors of today might not have. Probably very few would have those kinds of bona fides. But today, Cronkite, as you described, is viewed back as kind of maybe one of the consummate television journalists, and of course journalism is associated with neutrality. And that reputation for evenhandedness may have helped Cronkite’s kind of view as the most trusted man in America.

But when you write how his radio broadcasts early in his career included so much analysis, that “it was often hard to differentiate from opinion.” And he revealed his personal opinion on six 15-minute commentaries that he wrote for radio stations. For example, you turned up in research his commentaries on issues like starvation in China and Senator Joe McCarthy’s claim of Communists working in the State Department in 1950. Cronkite called McCarthy’s investigation  “a Roman holiday, a circus, a platform for arm-waving, finger-shaking, histrionics, and lost tempers.” So we have this idea maybe of Cronkite as always being this staid journalist who kept being very fair to all sides, but he definitely early in his career was hired to do these commentaries. So was that kind of surprising for you to learn about his era as an opinion journalist?

Mike Conway (11:47):

Yes, that was. Because once again, it’s an era that’s really gotten, gets no attention in his, in his biography. And I think he was one who didn’t really talk about it much because he really liked, you know, when you’ve done the things he did in World War II, that’s what you hang your hat on. But he came back to the United States to make, you know, he was running the CB – he was running the United Press Bureau in the Soviet Union at the start of the Cold War. And so he came back to the U.S. and he, he built up a system of Midwest radio stations, and he was their Washington correspondent. So he would cover stories that, that would be run on these stations in Kansas and in Iowa and in different states in the Middle West. And in those, he would kind of mix the opinion with the news.

That was how he did it. And this was not uncommon in that period of time, but it was not a strategy he used once he got to be the anchor or the main newscaster for CBS. That was about a dozen years later. But we have it, if you listen to Walter Cronkite on the radio when he was the CBS TV anchor, he still gave his opinions on radio. He always felt radio was a little more of a looser format where he could get away with more of his opinion than he would on the nightly newscast at CBS.

Nick Hirshon (13:07):

Hmm. Well, and then later on in his career, of course, he’s probably best known for the moment in 1963 announcing the assassination of President John Kennedy. And he kind of breaks there and you see him give some emotion, maybe choking back some tears as he’s describing what’s happened in Dallas, Texas. So what do you make of that moment and is it overplayed as maybe a part of Cronkite’s career? Is it, you know, feeling the emotion of a nation and telling maybe the public it’s okay to grieve for this president who was so young and vital? Or is it really a turning point in journalism in some sense?

Mike Conway (13:44):

Well, it’s a, it’s, that specific moment, if people listening know that moment, it’s been played over so many times — his emotions kind of take over for him at the moment he has to formally announce the president is dead, where he takes off his glasses and you can kind of tell he’s ready to tear up. Then he just steels himself and keeps moving. So it’s, the reason it’s hard to unpack is that it has been played off so many times that with my students, I often show them, I have many hours of that day, those days of coverage. I show them what it looked like if you were watching that moment, not just that one moment. And, and it, it showed Cronkite as a human being. That’s usually how we talk about this moment. That he was trying to be a hard news guy, but he was a human being.

And so the death of the president got to him, but he quickly pulls himself together. So for the public, it was one of the, it’s one of the things that television was able to do that print journalism couldn’t do as well, is this idea of the journalist as a human being. And so since he didn’t do it very often, it mattered. Whereas if he was somebody who always put his opinion on his sleeve or emotions, as today’s cable talkers do, then it wouldn’t really matter. But because he was kind of seen as this impartial journalist, then it had kind of that moment.

Nick Hirshon (15:08):

In the rest of the time that we have, I’d like to talk about your opportunity to interview Walter Cronkite shortly before he died. So that’s kind of an amazing experience, right? For a journalism history scholar to be interviewing one of those famous journalists of all time, certainly in our country. So how did that interview come about and what can you tell us about that experience?

Mike Conway (15:28):

It really was, Nick, it was one of the great moments of my career, because I worked in local television news for close to twenty years before I went back to school to get my degrees. And it just so happened that I had had this color glossy photo of Walter Cronkite that had to be from the ‘70s that I had found somewhere in the attic of my first TV station in Terre Haute and in every station I went to, I would tack that up at my little workstation as kind of, you know, the person I looked up to, but I had never met him or anything, but it turns out I was at University of Texas at Austin and they had his papers and, and Don Carlton, who runs the Briscoe Center for American History, was good friends with Walter Cronkite, helped him write his autobiography. The archives are there.

So I was one of the first scholars to get into Cronkite’s archive while he was still living. And then that set up this moment where I was able to spend some time with him when he still had an office at CBS and was able to go and interview him, an oral history video interview. But the idea was I wanted to talk about his local TV news experience, not what most people like to talk about, which would be the Kennedy assassination or the moonshots. And it was a fascinating – because he, I sent some, some old articles about it, and his secretary, administrative assistant, said he was so excited because nobody had ever wanted to talk to him about that era. And so it was this wonderful moment.

It was nerve wracking as all get out because I was by myself. I had to shoot my own oral history interview with Walter Cronkite, so I had to run the camera, ask the questions, and it was on a very strict timeline because all the major networks and documentary people were there to do interviews with him as well. And I was this one. But it was, he was just as genuine and as nice as you can imagine, and this was, he was in his late 80s and was still, he was still sharp as a tack. His hearing was going at that point, but he had an amazing memory and could really bring up these stories from his local TV news experience that only went on for a couple of years in Washington, D.C. And, and we had a wonderful conversation and it, and he gave me good information that helped me write the piece that I did about his time doing the local news in Washington, D.C.

Nick Hirshon (17:52):

Well, can you share with us any of maybe the surprising things that came out of that interview?

Mike Conway (17:57):

Well, the, the thing that – this is how it is, how wonderful it kind of worked out, is that there was a guy named Joe Wershba and anyone who knows the broadcast news history, he was a legendary guy that worked with Edward R. Murrow on the See It Now broadcast, later was one of the top producers on 60 Minutes. And I had interviewed him and his wife — if anyone has seen the movie Good Night, and Good Luck, Joe Wershba was played by Robert Downey Jr. in that movie. But Joe, he kept telling me when I was working on another project, he says, you need to look at when Cronkite did local news and D.C. ’cause Wershba had been part of this program.

And he kept telling me about how Cronkite did the story without, did the newscast without a script. And I didn’t really believe, I didn’t not believe it, but it wasn’t, I wasn’t that interested. But every time I would talk to Joe Wershba, he would say, “You got to look into this.” So finally I started digging into it and I found out that I found enough evidence that this really did happen. And it’s like, how in the world could this man do a newscast without a script? As a former TV news guy, I know how hard it is to do live shots without a script, but a full newscast with, with film and graphics. It’s like, you know, so that got me rolling. So I spent a couple years digging out the evidence first before I went to talk to him. And it, the story that I won’t forget, that I thought was fascinating, where did, you know, how do you learn how to do that?

Mike Conway (19:22):

Well, he had done play-by-play for the University of Oklahoma. He had done baseball and football games on a radio station in Kansas City. He had done all this time on radio. Then he said the most important time was when he worked for the United Press, the boss would love to go to big cocktail parties, the head of UP, and to show how important he was, he would call from the party to UP and say, “What’s the latest news?” And Cronkite, Walter Cronkite told me, he said, he didn’t want you to go run and rip the wires. He expected you to have the news in your head. And that’s how Walter Cronkite approached doing television news: absorb the news all day, then present it. Because he wanted to look in the camera and not look down at the script.

Before TelePrompters became a big deal, you either had to look down at the script or you had to look in the camera and have the information memorized. So he didn’t memorize it, but he had it in a way that he could speak extemporaneously. So my argument is that one of the reasons he became so popular later on was that he could do these live events, the space program, the Kennedy assassination, all these live events. He was a master at it because he did his homework and then he could just bring forth the information without having a script.

Nick Hirshon (20:40):

Wow. Well, in the time that we have now, as we kind of wrap up the podcast, what would you like listeners to know? What would be the takeaway of Walter Cronkite? You’ve kind of mentioned that he has this myth about him, this legendary status, and some of that is well earned, but some of it is also maybe been polished over the years. So what is the way that people should kind of remember Walter Cronkite as we mark this anniversary of his passing?

Mike Conway (21:06):

Well, I think that the, I think all the accolades for Walter Cronkite are deserved. That he had done so many things in his career from print to radio to television being the main anchor of CBS at the height of the broadcast era. He was a very, very serious journalist. He took everything –  he demanded so much from his staff. He really wanted to get the information and, and really bring it out the best way that he could think, you know, the way he and his crew, you know, it was kind of the high modern era of what we called objective journalism. They tried their darndest within their limitations to do the news that way. That’s kind of what we remember about him. When it gets overplayed is, we also have to remember when people harken back to that era, the broadcast era, it was a wonderful period of time for a lot of people, but there was not a lot of diversity in journalism.

There wasn’t a lot of diversity in the stories that were covered. So for the people who were part of it, it was a wonderful period. But if you were a marginalized group, you weren’t necessarily part of this whole system. And so I always caution my students to say there really was no golden era of journalism. There were different eras, but if we’re looking to someone to kind of hold up, he is certainly a person who had great integrity and great instincts as a journalist and he continued at a very high level in many formats for many decades.

Nick Hirshon (22:32):

If I could just add one more thing there. Do you, as you watch television news today, do you see anybody who embodies some of these traits that Walter Cronkite had or maybe the way that he approached the business?

Mike Conway (22:46):

Ah, that is a really hard, that’s a hard comparison to make because the industry is so different. The other thing we have to remember about Walter Cronkite was he was shielded from the advertising, from the ratings, from – not necessarily, they did follow the ratings, but you just, you, not many journalists in any format are as protected as he was from complaints or the idea of how do you get more people to watch, et cetera, et cetera. So no, I don’t really look at people that way. I tend to, you know, I use the idea that I want information I can trust. So I tend to go back to the people or the news organizations that I feel that they are giving me the best information they can at that moment.

Nick Hirshon (23:32):

For sure. Well, thank you so much for coming on the podcast. This is, I think, now your second time on Journalism History, lending your expertise on broadcast television news and we appreciate this so much.

Mike Conway (23:44):

I appreciate, Nick, the opportunity to get to talk about Mr. Cronkite and his career.

Nick Hirshon (23:46):

We’re joined now by Amanda Morrow, the curator at the Walter Cronkite Memorial on the campus of Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph. So first off, welcome Amanda to the Journalism History podcast.

Amanda Morrow (24:09):

Thank you. Thank you for having me.

Nick Hirshon (24:11):

And could you tell us how the Walter Cronkite Memorial ended up at Missouri Western?

Amanda Morrow (24:17):

Sure. Well, Walter Cronkite was actually born in St. Joseph, Missouri, in 1916, and so the, a few years ago, the former president of the university, Dr. Robert Vartabedian, he noticed that there weren’t really any memorials to Cronkite in St. Joe, and actually we aren’t aware of any other ones in the country. And so he decided to get something going on site in order to honor Cronkite and his contribution to journalism since he was a native son of St. Joseph.

Nick Hirshon (24:50):

And how did you come to work at the memorial?

Amanda Morrow (24:54):

Well, it was a big process that started out before I came on. So the memorial was first opened in 2013. And it was, initially it was this really cool what they call monolith, which was a big sort of monument of, of photographs, thirty-nine in all, that were images of Walter Cronkite’s most iconic reports. So the first man on the moon, the Kennedy assassination, those big, big moments from his journalism career. And over time, as these things kind of do, it just kept expanding and expanding. And the, the university had some connections with Walter Cronkite’s family and we ended up getting more objects in the collection and it got to be big enough where it needed somebody dedicated to take care of it. So I came on in 2016 to care for the collections, work on tours, and work with the tour groups that came through and kind of expand programming.

Nick Hirshon (25:59):

And for all our listeners, there are tons of amazing photographs on your website that show different exhibits within the memorial, if anyone’s thinking about visiting. I saw the centerpiece of the memorial is a photographic display you have, nine feet wide, twenty-one feet tall with 39 images of these world and national news events that Cronkite covered while he was anchor of the CBS Evening News from 1962 to 1981. You have eight of his Emmy awards, his CBS office desk, a collection of caricatures by the famed artist Al Hirschfeld. So in your few years now working at the Walter Cronkite Memorial, what are some of the other items that you find fascinating?

Amanda Morrow (26:36):

Well, I’d have to say my favorite are the collection of, of Emmys that we have. So you have eight Emmy awards, including his lifetime achievement award, that are on display right now. Those are kind of the glitzy, shiny, sparkly things that everybody’s really interested in when they come through. It really draws your attention. We also have his desk, Cronkite’s desk from after his retirement at CBS that we have on display as well as a lot of his office materials and supplies and even his briefcase, which still has his New York address on it, which is pretty cool. We do have, we have lots of images also from CBS. We have a great relationship with them and we’re able to access their archives as far as video and images go. And so that’s, it’s a very visual place, the memorial. And, and along with the objects that we are, are very honored to have in our collection, we also have a very artistic representation of Cronkite’s life, including a timeline and lots and lots and lots of multimedia material to access.

Nick Hirshon (27:50):

And obviously our listeners probably know something about Walter Cronkite. He’s certainly an icon in the news industry, but is there anything you think they would be surprised to learn or maybe that you’ve been surprised to learn in your time working there?

Amanda Morrow (28:05):

Well, I actually was not familiar with Cronkite before I got started, so I had to learn a lot about journalism history. My background’s in more of the museum technical side, I guess you would say. So I was not aware of his impact on journalism in general, even though I knew who he was. He retired a few years before I was born actually. But I’ve been so surprised and impressed with the impact, the emotional impact that he’s had on our visitors. So I get people on the regular who come in and have tears in their eyes recounting their memories of Walter Cronkite, you know, conveying all of these very, very nostalgic and important events in their lives, especially the Kennedy assassination since Cronkite is sort of, that’s one of his iconic reports. The way that he was able to, I guess, reflect the American public’s emotions back to them. He did a really good job in that, in that specific time and people have a really strong emotional connection. So I think that’s probably what has surprised me the most is seeing just how connected people feel to him even after all of these years.

Nick Hirshon (29:22):

And I saw online that you also have an exhibit on Cronkite’s wife of nearly 65 years, Mary Elizabeth Betsy Cronkite, and she was the mother of his three children, Nancy, Kate, and Chip. Why do you think it’s important to include her story in the memorial?

Amanda Morrow (29:36):

Well, actually that was a special request from Cronkite’s three children. They wanted to make sure that along with Cronkite they honored, that we honored actually his wife. ’Cause she was so supportive of his career during his time in the public eye and, and before and after as well.

Nick Hirshon (29:53):

Hm. Any other favorite stories that you’ve heard either from people who knew Walter Cronkite? I’m sure that you’ve been interacting with some of those. As you said, there are certainly tons of former viewers of his evening broadcast that come through the museum. So any other stories that kind of stand out to you?

Amanda Morrow (30:11):

Well, I do have a favorite artifact. So the, we, so along with, we have quite a few artifacts. We’re very, very lucky to be able to have such a unique collection. But most of it was, is actually on loan from Cronkite’s three children. But my favorite object in the collection is, because it’s a great story, it’s actually a bullet casing from Cronkite’s time covering World War II. He was a UP reporter over in England, and there was a special contingent of journalists called the Writing 69th, and they were actually trained in combat. So they were able to go up with the Air Force and experience what it felt like to be in the middle of a battle and then they could come down and write about it later. And it didn’t last very long. One of the journalists actually passed away. But Cronkite kept the bullet casing from the, from that battle that he was involved in and had it engraved. And we actually have that on display right now.

Nick Hirshon (31:20):

Wow. And you mentioned obviously his being from Missouri. So how do you think his upbringing or where he came from influenced who he became as a journalist?

Amanda Morrow (31:30):

Oh yeah. Well, I think he’s talked about that a few different times, that his humility and his hard work ethic may have come from his Midwestern background. And he was born here in St. Joe. He actually was raised in Kansas City, which is a bigger city about an hour south of here until he moved to Texas. And most of his childhood was actually in Texas, but his family was from here.

Nick Hirshon (31:57):

And in the archives are there any other documents that might be interesting? Obviously we have an audience here, some are journalism scholars themselves but just people who might, again, remember Cronkite from watching him on TV all these years. Any other insights in some of his writings or scripts and memos that he was passing around?

Amanda Morrow (32:17):

Well, most of his papers were actually donated to the Dolph Briscoe Center down in Austin while he was still alive in 1988. So we have, most of what we have is more personal in – it’s more personal because it’s what his, what’s passed on to his children. Of course we don’t have all of that, but we just got a part of that collection. And so we have a lot of items from his personal life, like images from his yacht and his friends and that sort of thing. More family-oriented rather than professional papers.

Nick Hirshon (32:52):

Sure. Well, one of the final things that we always ask the guests on this podcast, and I wonder if you can answer this in the context of Walter Cronkite, is why does journalism history matter? So knowing what you do know now about how much journalism obviously mattered to him and his impact on the field, why do you think journalism history itself matters to society?

Amanda Morrow (33:14):

Oh. Well, I think, it’s kind of hard not to get political in my response. I think it definitely matters. Cronkite kind of set the tone. He was a pioneer in TV journalism and he brought a lot of those journalistic ethics from his print career over. So things like staying unbiased and objective and trying to tell both sides of the story, sticking to the facts. He was really good at taking a complicated situation and distilling it down into simple facts that the audience could understand. And so all of those ethical considerations and those qualities were integrated into television news because of Cronkite. And I’d say having those types of, of ethical considerations on the minds of journalists matter greatly. Making sure that they are unbiased and trying to, to tell the story as accurately as possible – that matters for, for all of us.

Nick Hirshon (34:24):

Certainly. Well said. Well, thank you again for your time and for joining us today on the Journalism History podcast.

Amanda Morrow (34:30):

Yes, thank you.

Nick Hirshon (34:32):

Thanks for tuning into this episode of the Journalism History podcast, and additional thanks to our sponsor, Taylor and Francis. Until next time, I’m your host, Nick Hirshon, signing off with the words of Edward R. Murrow: “Good night, and good luck.”

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