Walter Cronkite Made Me Twitter
When I heard that Walter Cronkite was gravely ill, I immediately thought about the one and only time I met the news legend. It was the day after Election Day 1997; I was a student at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism and I was running on no sleep, having pulled an all-nighter to be part of the J-School’s first election website.
Aside from being a J-schooler, I was also a contributor at Publishers Weekly and instead of going home to rest I opted for free food and drink at a publishing party for some book about TV news. The room was packed with media celebrities, some I recognized others I only knew by byline. I found myself talking with Joe Klein about J-school and the first election website, which we called The Third Rail. I don’t remember how exactly it happened, but I think Klein introduced me to Mr. Cronkite as a student who had just participated in some state-of-art news coverage.
I had no time to make a fool of myself gushing about how much I admired Mr. Cronkite, because he started asking questions and got me gushing about my recent election coverage experience. He then asked me if I’d met his wife, as if I were one of his colleagues. I wrote the URL down on a business card and he said that he was not very good at the web stuff but he wanted to check out the new site.
“He likes to know about these things,” his wife said to me as if I were their niece or something.
‘Uncle Walt’ asked more questions until someone interrupted us. But before completely leaving me, Mr. Cronkite shook my hand and wished me luck.
Since J-School I have made my way as mostly a print journalist and I admit I am so not state-of-the-art about anything.
But when I wondered about Mr. Walter Cronkite’s health crises I thought that maybe I should finally succumb to Twitter-which is where everyone seems to be getting their news from these days. It is the new media, as was that website many years ago. So in a WWWD (What Would Walter Do?) moment, and in sending out good thoughts for this giant newsman made of gracious curiosity, I joined Twitter.
I’m not very good at this stuff, but I think I should at least know about these things.-Bridget Kinsella