Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Company Man

Lot of lamenting going on with the death of Walter Cronkite. I'll throw in my two cents: he was the start of the decline of broadcast news, with Murrow and Friendly at the peak.

Certainly the man deserves credit for having the courage (and corporate authority of CBS News behind him) to point out the obvious in Vietnam. And as Media Channel's Danny Schechter talks about on Democracy Now! Cronkite did speak out against media consolidation, albeit well into his retirement.

But when Murrow and Friendly couldn't get CBS to back their investigative ventures, they paid for it themselves, like Harvest of Shame, a 1960 documentary about migrant workers. Covering wars and the White House are very sexy, but I gotta go with the guys getting close to a group of people utterly forgotten and taken for granted.

I suppose, like all of us, Cronkite did the best he could given his environment. We all make our compromises to get along in an unjust, badly managed world; some of us not at all. Conkrite was a person, no more, no less, subject to the powers of the structure that doled out his paycheck and maintained his influential public image. And who could blame him?

I recognize the impact Cronkite had on future television news anchors (great, what a legacy), but it's easy to laud the folks who sat the on the fence and didn't provoke us into action.

No comments: