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Tribute: Walter Cronkite

posted by Nell Minow

As well as I remember those misty images of Neil Armstrong coming out of the lunar module to put the first footstep on the moon, I remember the look on Walter Cronkite’s face as he reported it.

Cronkite died today at age 92.

No one born after 1980 can understand the influence of Walter Cronkite on the generation that came of age in the 1950’s and 60’s because there is simply no one to compare him to. In those days there were only three choices for network news coverage, and Cronkite, voted “the most trusted man in America,” was on CBS, which prided itself on meeting the highest standard for quality broadcast journalism — and never insisted that the news division make money. In the 1960’s, when we had to wait every night to find out from television news broadcasts what had happened that day, it was Cronkite who explained it all to us — the assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy and the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., Vietnam, Kent State, Watergate.

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But there was no story that he loved more than the space program. He was always completely professional but it was easy to see he was as excited and proud as we were. His integrity and curiosity inspired us all and his legacy should be a powerful reminder of the importance of the quality of journalism he pioneered and exemplified.

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