Walter Cronkite: That's the Way It Was (And Always Should Be)

Published on July 18, 2009
by Kara Swisher


Of all the many journalists I admire, Walter Cronkite is perhaps right at the very top of the list.

With an unerring sense of fairness, consistent equilibrium that is sorely missed, rigorous adherence to ethics and standards and a crackerjack reporter, the legendary television newsman and anchorman–who died yesterday at 92 years old–was also never afraid to show his humanity.

The most famous instance came after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated and Cronkite had to deliver the bad official news about his death. He teared up, ever so slightly, all while he kept his composure and did his job.

(See the video below, which he did, incredibly, live.)

That he did it so well, time and again, whether talking about the futility of the Vietnam War or about some amusing story that crossed his desk at CBS (CBS) News, is a lesson we should all pay attention to.

At a time when journalism is changing so rapidly, as the business models of old are buffeted by the gale-force winds of the Internet, it’s important to remember that what Cronkite represented never goes out of style–no matter how news and information are delivered.

In today’s noisy media universe, he should serve as an example of how to be booming without being shrill and commanding without being a blowhard.

I might sound like a crabby old media type (as if I care!), but it’s too easy to argue that the old needs to be flushed out and the new is always better.

Sometimes, this is true.

But Cronkite understood that people value accurate, straightforward and quality news, which he always delivered and would do so today to viewers, no matter the medium.

He was a class act and it’s a sad day because he is gone.

But Cronkite does live on on the Web, so here are some great videos of him in action to enjoy and appreciate.

Kennedy Assassination:

Martin Luther King Assassination:

Total Eclipse of the Sun:

That’s the Way It Is:

Return to: Walter Cronkite: That's the Way It Was (And Always Should Be)