The loss of America’s most trusted man

Published 10:53 pm Friday, July 17, 2009

It is very rare when two moments in history – separate in description – collide in a moment in a single event. In this case it has happened twice.

In July 1969 the world was united around radios, televisions and message boards revolving around buildings for the latest news on the Apollo 11 mission – the mission that would land American astronauts on the moon.

And, for millions of Americans, the voice and face that delivered the latest news of Apollo 11 was that of CBS anchor Walter Cronkite. It was Cronkite – who later was named “the most trusted man in America” in a survey – that helped document Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon.

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And, as we prepare to mark the 40th anniversary of the moon landing, we mourn the loss of America’s most trusted man – Walter Cronkite. He died Friday at the age of 92.

From the sands of Normandy, covering the Allied invasion known as D-Day to the coverage of the moon landings and the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Cronkite helped document most of the 20th century for multiple generations.

His distinctive voice and demeanor set the standard for journalism in the 20th century and established a level of credibility and respect that every media outlet and type sought to match – and rarely met.

In a world now overwhelmed with 24-hour news stations, most of which left journalism ethics and standards well behind, would do well to learn something from Cronkite.

Today’s journalists would do well to work to emulate the work Cronkite invested in mastering his trade and the passion he showed in not just telling the story, but telling it in a way that left his viewers better informed.

With the passing of Walter Cronkite, journalism has lost a leader, but America has lost an icon. And, as Cronkite would end his broadcasts each night … that’s the way it is.