Texas Monthly Talks

Broadcast Journalist
Walter Cronkite

Walter Cronkite


Interview


Notes from Evan Smith

"How can you possibility do justice to introducing, or interviewing, Walter Cronkite? Well, when the legendary 89-year-old journalist returned to Austin and the University of Texas campus in late February to be honored by NASA, I found myself sitting across from the man once widely though to be the most trusted figure in America -- try finding anyone in the media described that way today. All these years later, the image of him announcing President Kennedy's death, of him narrating the signature public moments in all of our lives, is seared into my consciousness and probably yours too, along with the six words that began his trademark exit line: And that's the way it is. But the way it was when Cronkite was the gold standard of broadcast news isn't the way it is. The bean counters and budget cutters at the big conglomerates that now own the networks have said, to coin a phrase, good night and good luck to a time when anchors mattered and nightly news mattered. Cable TV and TIVO and the internet and other technological advances have made the Bob Schieffers and Brian Williamses of the world more irrevelant than ever, if not outright obsolete. Never again will a generation be reared on over-the-air offerings at the dinner hour. It's entirely possible that most kids will grow up never even knowing there's such a thing as network news. Perhaps, at some point, there won't be. Cronkite has an opinion on this, not suprisingly, as he has an opinion on just about everything -- and he's earned the right to offer it. The Missouri native, who attended UT in the early thirties but never graduated, not only talked the talk but walked the walk in a career that began before World War II, reached its heights during nearly twenty years at the anchor of the CBS Evening News, and continues today through his commentaries and assorted public appearances. He is not, in any sense of the word, the retiring type. How lucky we are to have a half-hour of his time this week!" - Evan Smith, Texas Monthly Talks, Broadcast 03.23.06