For almost twenty years at the height of the American Century, from 1962 to 1981, the news came from Walter Cronkite.
He was the nightly CBS anchor. And he was more than that. In a time when Americans got their news — collectively, almost communally — from the Big Three television networks, Cronkite could seem like the plain-spoken voice of God. His simple “that’s the way it is” had Olympian authority.
Now he’s gone, and an age seems gone with him. JFK. Vietnam. Man on the moon. And the news as we knew it.
This hour, On Point: Walter Cronkite and televison news, then and now.
Joining us from College Park, Maryland, is Lee Thornton, professor of broadcast journalism at the University Maryland. She worked for CBS for a decade, until 1982, and began in New York working in the newsroom with Walter Cronkite. She then moved to the Washington Bureau, where she covered Jimmy Carter as White House correspondent.
From Baltimore, we’re joined by David Zurawik, television and media critic for the Baltimore Sun, where he writes the blog “Z on TV.” His Cronkite obituary ran on Saturday, and he’s blogged about the response to Cronkite’s death here and here.
From Ossining, New York, we’re joined by Peter Boyer, staff writer at The New Yorker and author of “Who Killed CBS? The Undoing of America’s Number One News Network.” In June last year, he wrote about Keith Olbermann and how TV news is changing.
And from Hanover, N.H., is Jack Beatty, On Point news analyst and senior editor at The Atlantic.