Cronkite remains journalism’s gold standard

Published 10:29 pm Saturday, July 18, 2009

I am convinced that I could live off five or six television stations.

I know that saying such a thing when I live in a world where 500 regular and high-definition channels are available borders on blasphemy, but it’s true.

For those of you under the age of 30, you might find it hard to believe that I grew up in an era of three television stations: ABC, NBC and CBS.

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That was it. There were no other options (sorry PBS).

I was able to see what I wanted to see, enjoy the shows that I wanted to enjoy and still have time to do something else, which might have included homework.

And, to this day, I still remember the excitement level of being able to turn the dial to another notch and finding the “renegade” channel of FOX. It wasn’t really clear at first, but with a little maneuvering of the antenna and some well-placed tin-foil, we were able to add a fourth network to our collection.

But, in today’s world of DISH, Direct TV and digital cable, the channel options are almost too much to handle for a boy from rural Alabama.

And, even with all these options, all these features and viewing options, I still find myself limiting my selection to just a handful of channels.

My rotation mostly includes ESPN, the Discovery channel and the History channel. Throw in some USA, TNT and the news channels, and I am pretty much taken care of.

And, with all these options, it seems the one option I want is not available — ala Carte pricing.

With advancements in today’s ability to buy things, there should be an opportunity for viewers to buy the channels they want and discard the ones they do not. Just imagine the stress relief on my remote if it and I didn’t have to work through all the unviewed channels.

An American Icon is lost

Among the three channels I mentioned growing up with was the CBS network. And while I did not value the information shared by television news in the late 70s, I do remember the value my parents placed on it.

The evening news was a ritual in my house. First, there was the national news, followed by the local news. Then came whatever show my parents enjoyed.

But, the news was the anchor of my parents’ evening and thus mine (one television pretty much puts the power in the hand of the one who bought it; mom and dad).

I do not vividly remember seeing Walter Cronkite’s face on television, but I do remember his voice. The voice that many in the 70s would associate with the “most trusted man in America.”

For journalists, Cronkite was the gold standard. He was the one each aspired to be.

But, it was not his appearance they wanted to emulate, rather his style, his demeanor and his reputation.

Cronkite, throughout his career, carried with him the mantle of credibility — the most important thing to a journalist.

He was a thorough and relentless journalist who hungered for the story – but more important, he hungered to get the story correct.

With the passing of Walter Cronkite, America and the world of journalism has lost a true legend and icon. But Walter Cronkite remains the gold standard for us to all aspire to.