Cronkite set right example

Published 11:16 pm Saturday, July 18, 2009

It should be a sad day for our country after losing “the most trusted man in America.”

Long-time newsman Walter Cronkite died Friday, leaving a legacy that paved the way for modern media and set the standard for which TV news still aspires — and often falls short.

Cronkite, who died at the age of 92, was the lead news anchor for CBS throughout the 1960s and 1970s, a tumultuous time in American history that really saw the television news broadcast become a vital part of daily routines.

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Long before CNN and the other 24-7 news stations and way before the Internet offered instant information, Cronkite was the iconic figure that Americans looked to for their information.

Cronkite may have been most recognized for his deep voice but it was the man’s integrity, objectivity, fairness, intelligence and attention to detail that elevated him above all others.

For nearly two decades, he took the complexities of an ever-changing world and boiled it down in a way that explained, but never talked down, to the public.

He had the uncanny ability to think on the fly and adjust to any situation. His ability to work for long hours at a time earned him the name “Old Ironpants.”

Cronkite rarely showed emotion or allowed his own commentary to slip into the broadcasts, but the few times it did — landing a man on the moon, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and continued involvement in the Vietnam War — showed that journalists aren’t always apart from what they cover and paved the way for countless commentary shows.

Regardless of age or politics or gender, anyone that appreciates being informed quickly and accurately owes a debt of gratitude to Cronkite.

Borrowing his signature sign-off, “and that’s the way it is.”