Faith & Social Justice: In the spirit of Richard Overton and the 17th C. Levellers

R. I. P. Walter Cronkite (1916-2009)

225px-Walter_CronkiteThe man who really was “the most trusted man in America” for my generation has died after a long battle with cancer cerebro-vascular disease.  Walter Cronkite was a journalist of such incredible skill AND integrity that is rare today. (Maybe Bill Moyers, but PBS doesn’t get the viewers it needs.) Rest in peace, Walter.  I just hope that objectivity in journalism hasn’t died along with you.

July 17, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized


  1. R.I.P….

    Comment by Paul | July 18, 2009

  2. I’m sure Walter Cronkite was a fine man, but I find it hard to lament a former time when information got to people by a handful of sources. It’s like getting nostalgic about the time before Craigslist, Amazon, and eBay when everybody relied on the Sears catalog.

    Comment by Peter Forrester | July 19, 2009

  3. I’m not nolstagic for the fewer news sources, Peter. I worry that today’s journalists do not even attempt to have the objectivity and integrity that Cronkite showed. He was “the most trusted man in America” because he made sure that the story was accurate and he mostly tried to keep his opinions out of it. A major exception–when he traveled to Vietnam in ’68 and returned saying that the war was unwinnable–had such an impact because people trusted him to tell them the truth. LBJ decided a week later not to run for reelection saying, “If I have lost Cronkite, I’ve lost middle America.”

    Today’s journalists–the many on the right and the few on the left and the false centrists at CNN (who simply do “he said, she said” in place of true objectivity)–give their opinions far more than they do any investigation into the truth of anything.

    I mourn not the greater number of news sources, but the lack of real journalism in 90% of those sources!

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | July 19, 2009

  4. We have to remember to that Cronkite worked in a system that he did not create and did quite well in it. I agree with Michael that todays “journalists” (a majority of them) give more opinion that factual journalism aand Journalism suffers as a result of it in my opinion. However, today it is a different playing field and often ratings drives the news.

    Comment by Paul | July 20, 2009

  5. I’d submit that — besides variety — the only difference between today’s news and that of 40 years ago is transparency.

    Today, there’s less pretense to objectivity, which is a good thing, since there’s no such thing as “objectivity”, especially in reporting anything as messy as the daily news.

    Nietzsche would be going crazy at hearing people talk about the daily news as something that can be described and communicated “objectively” without opinion, viewpoint, biases, etc.

    The challenge for all thinking people at all times has been to manage the contingencies of reporting.

    Walter Cronkite was no more “objective” than Katie Couric or Anderson Cooper. Objectivity is a myth whether in news, academic history political theory, philosophy, theology — everything.

    Finding this out can be awfully disenchanting, which is why I think so many people 35+ get so worked up about the bygone “objectivity” of the old days.

    It’s like disenchanted contemporary Catholics getting worked up about theological debate, and clamoring for a return to the “objectivity” in theology, which was only apparent, and merely cloaked the prejudices and biases of decision-makers and the powerful.

    I’d rather KNOW upfront that somebody like Britt Hume has an agenda than pretend that people like Tom Brokaw are serene mouthpieces of “objectivity”.

    Comment by cybertheology | July 20, 2009

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