Former colleagues, friends and fans remember Walter Cronkite, who died Friday at the age of 92.
Walter and Ed Murrow defined broadcast journalism, and there was no one else then or now who even came close.
I love Walter, I wanted to be just like him when I was a young reporter, and when I came to work for him I found out he was just the same off camera as he was on camera. Somehow, people came to understand that, and I think that is why so many people trusted him.
Walter always understood that … the news was more important than those of us who report it. People appreciated that, and they loved Walter for it.
From Byron Pitts, CBS “60 Minutes” Correspondent:
A few years ago, Mr. Cronkite dropped by the studio to say hello. It was as if the Pope walked in the building. The newest to the oldest employees in the building came by the news rooms in waves. The brave ones asked for his autograph or a picture. Most of us just stood at a distance, grateful just to be in his presence.
On the good days at CBS NEWS, Walter Cronkite remains the gold standard. On the tough days at CBS NEWS, Walter Cronkite remains the gold standard.
I met him once years ago when I was a local reporter in Boston. He was both kind and elegant. Those of us who wish we knew him talk about his resume. Those around CBS who actually know him, talk about his character.
CBS Radio’s Peter King covers NASA and the space program, which had a special place in Cronkite’s heart:
Cronkite was the guy we saw floating around in the zero-g “vomit comet” and riding the centrifuge to show viewers what astronaut training was like. We never saw Brinkley do that! THAT said, there was a great deal in truth in one of the scenes from “Apollo 13″ where they switch from Cronkite to ABC’s Jules Bergman. The space community loved Cronkite for his popularity, but many felt Bergman was the guy who REALLY knew it what was going on.
Cronkite contributed to CBS Radio’s coverage of John Glenn’s shuttle flight in 1998, it was my job to “debrief” him for radio. He was a delight to work with, and when my then-wife and I wanted to take a picture with him and had camera trouble, he insisted on staying until we got the glitch fixed, while his handler tried to move him along so he wouldn’t miss his flight to Houston.
Fred Young, retired senior vice president of news for Hearst-Argyle Television:
As the face and voice for CBS Affiliates, he, along with Huntley and Brinkley, Frank Reynolds, Jennings, Brokaw, Rather, et al set the standard for the anchor men and women and the network news divisions that partnered with our local news operations.
There have been and will continue to be many great broadcast journalists — but Cronkite, as a face and voice of TV news, will always be recognized as the head of a very talented class.
Jim Naughton, former Poynter President, former New York Times White House correspondent in the Nixon and Ford eras:
In 1972, I was reporting on the McGovern campaign for The New York Times at the Democratic convention in Miami. The nomination was to be decided by a vote on a challenge to McGovern’s winner-take-all delegates from California. During the day of the vote, I found out from a McGovern source that they were going to deliberately lose an earlier challenge to the makeup of the South Carolina delegation. I don’t recall why that made tactical sense, but it did, and was a device to lull the Hubert Humphrey camp into thinking it would win on California. I passed the information along to R.W. (Johnny) Apple, who was writing the analytical stories for the Times, and he made it the lead of his story. But when Times editors in New York watching the convention on TV heard Cronkite say that the outcome of the South Carolina challenge had doomed the McGovern candidacy, they cut the item entirely from Apple’s story. Even when he was wrong, Cronkite had immense impact.
From Chris Clark, veteran former anchor, WTVF-TV (CBS affiliate) Nashville:
From Eugene Patterson, former editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Poynter’s St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times:
They sent it to New York and Cronkite saw it and he phoned me up from New York in my office at The Atlanta Journal said he had seen me reading this column and would like to run it on the “CBS Evening News.” At that point, it was not even a 30-minute program.
I said “Sure, I’d be delighted.” To my amazement, that evening he broadcast the whole thing. It must have taken fix or six minutes, but he gave up the bulk of his evening broadcast to that and it had an enormous impact across the country. It was my first realization of the magnitude that television could bring to the written word. If I got a dozen letters about a written column that appeared in the AJC, it was tremendous reaction, but I got more than 1,000 letters after the Cronkite broadcast.
From Stacey Woelfel, Chairman, Radio-Television News Directors Association: