Cronkite Remembered

Walter Cronkite: Bio

One of the most respected, popular, and influential journalists in any medium, Walter Cronkite spent nearly seventy years reporting and analyzing the news, covering almost every landmark event since World War II. Once named the “most trusted figure” in America in a national poll, Cronkite emerged as an icon of broadcast news during his nineteen-year reign as anchor of CBS’s nightly newscast, when his name became synonymous with quality, integrity, and fairness, and presidents and pundits scrutinized his reports for insights into mainstream American thinking. Signing off each newscast with his trademark “And that’s the way it is,” Cronkite was the unflappable, unimpeachable source of news good and bad for millions of Americans.
 
Cronkite launched his journalism career in the 1930s, at various newspapers and radio stations, before covering World War II for the United Press. After the war he reopened UP’s Amsterdam and Brussels bureaus, serving as chief correspondent during the Nuremberg trials, and from 1946 to 1948 ran UP’s Moscow bureau. Cronkite joined CBS in 1950, originally hosting You Are There and The CBS Morning Show and narrating the documentary series Twentieth Century. In 1952 he began anchoring the network’s political convention coverage, and ten years later succeeded Douglas Edwards as anchor of CBS Evening News. The following year the newscast expanded from fifteen minutes to thirty, with a debut installment featuring Cronkite’s exclusive interview with President John F. Kennedy. Two months later, in an extremely rare display of on-air emotion, a visibly shaken Cronkite broke the news of Kennedy’s death.
 
Anchoring the nightly news until 1981, Cronkite was a central figure in television’s coverage of numerous momentous events. He covered two decades of manned space missions, including the 1969 moon landing, which in later years Cronkite often described as his most memorable story. He visited Vietnam several times, most famously after the 1968 Tet offensive, concluding in a rare departure from straight reportage that “the only rational way out then would be to negotiate—not as victims, but as an honorable people who . . . did the best they could.” During Watergate, Cronkite landed exclusive interviews with key figures like John Dean and Archibald Cox, and in 1977 he conducted separate interviews with Egyptian President Anwar El-Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, who for the first time agreed to unconditional face-to-face meetings.
 
After retiring from the anchor position, Cronkite was a special correspondent for CBS News, hosting several acclaimed documentaries, including the Emmy-winning Children of Apartheid and Walter Cronkite’s Universe. In 1993 he cofounded the Cronkite Ward Company, producer of more than sixty award-winning documentaries.
 
His many awards included multiple Emmys, two George Foster Peabody Awards, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and a special Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia University Award for “continuing heroic service in informing the American public and maintaining the quality of broadcast journalism.” Arizona State University’s school of journalism and mass communications is named after Cronkite.
 

For More Information

CBS News: Cronkite Remembered

The Museum of Broadcast Communications

Arizona State University Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications

National Public Radio: Cronkite comments on news events he reported on over the past century

New York Times: Obituary

Newseum: Remembering Walter Cronkite

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