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TV Writers Reflect on Walter Cronkite

Aaron Barnhart / Kansas City Star: “Former Kansas City mayor Kay Barnes was a young girl living in St. Joseph when the Cronkites returned from Europe. Her father and Walter’s father were brothers, and Barnes can still vividly remember the first sight of her first cousin driving up to her parents’ home. ‘Walter opened his clenched hand and in his hand was a very, very small camera which he had with him during the Nuremberg trials,’ Barnes recalled. ‘I’m not sure they were supposed to have cameras in there.’”

David Barron / Houston Chronicle: “Walter Cronkite’s life and career reflected the words he used in a familiar advertising campaign for his alma mater, the University of Texas: ‘What starts here changes the world.’ Born in Missouri, he moved with his family at age 10 to Houston, where he attended Lanier Junior High School and San Jacinto High. It was at San Jacinto where he met Fred Birney, one of his earliest journalism instructors. Birney, Cronkite wrote in his autobiography, taught him the ‘sacred covenant between newspaper people and their readers. We journalists had to be right and we had to be fair.’”

Robert Lloyd / Los Angeles Times: “We have come to understand news as show business, and are inclined to consume it as such, as part of the many-channeled entertainment package our broadcasters and cable companies provide, and not as a break from it — as a sacred space in which facts matter more than opinions, but in which opinions, when rarely and carefully expressed, matter. When Cronkite spoke, it was with a thoughtfulness that the 24-hour news cycle does not encourage; and when there was no time for reflection, he avoided melodrama, frenzy and guesswork.”

Alessandra Stanley / New York Times: “People tuned in to his program even on routine days when his broadcast – Senate subcommittee hearings, gas prices, detente talks with the Soviet Union – was as dull as toast. Mr. Cronkite’s air of authority, lightly worn and unquestioned, was unusual even then, but nobody comes close to it now.

For viewers, however, it sometimes seems as if everything Mr. Cronkite did was for the last time, that his outsize tenure bracketed a bygone era when America was, if not a more confident nation, certainly a more trusting one.”

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