Friday, 17 July 2009

Yahoo obits

There is something unsettling about obit tag lines on Yahoo, especially for an icon like Walter Cronkite, who died today at 92.

"Legendary CBS anchor Walter Cronkite dies at 92 - Yahoo!"

Yes, "News" follows but "Yahoo!" makes it sound more joyous than sorrowful. did Walter justice with its obit.

Much of what Cronkite represented was lost after the CBS anchor retired at 65.

Television news just isn't what it used to be. Somewhere along the line, entertainment and news merged and in some cases degenerated to theatre of the absurd.

Growing up with Cronkite - the Most Trusted Man in America - was a security blanket. We felt comforted and informed by his presentation and his authoritative words.

In 1963, he was in our homes for hours emotionally sharing the tragedy of John Kennedy's assassination.

In 1969, he motivated us to celebrate the first moon landing.

He gave us the Vietnam war up close and personal, covered by the media like no other war.

Fair and balanced? Cronkite comes to mind more than that sideshow "news" channel filled with far right dingbats who use those words as their motto.

Cronkite's contribution to the media did not end when he retired. He had much more to say and do.

Three media-related Cronkite quotes among the gems at are:

"Objective journalism and an opinion column are about as similar as the Bible and Playboy magazine."

"I think it is absolutely essential in a democracy to have competition in the media, a lot of competition, and we seem to be moving away from that."

"In seeking truth you have to get both sides of a story."

All areas of the media reached excess in the coverage of Michael Jackson's recent death.

Cronkite is due more than a small fraction of the coverage given the late pop star, but we couldn't find any talk show tonight devoting much talk time to his death.

Ironically, the only extended time found was an hour on CFRB, a station once known for its stable of trusted newscasters, including Betty Kennedy, Pierre Berton and Gordon Sinclair.

Maybe the all-so-important demographics of other talk shows don't include people old enough to remember Cronkite and the days when news was largely fair and balanced.

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