It’s good to know that Walter Cronkite hasn’t faded away. I keep wishing for a mainstream journalist who wouldn’t be afraid to follow in Uncle Walter’s Vietnam footsteps and admit that the jig is up in Iraq, that no matter how much Americans might wish that there’s a light at the end of this tunnel. Perhaps Cronkite can inspire someone who has inherited an anchor desk since his heyday to step up and take on this challenge, among others.
Cronkite has been making himself available to young people and to journalists and is a reminder that television journalism doesn’t have to be idiotic marketeering. Television can and should be a way to educate citizens in a democracy. Cronkite presided over a period when CBS News regularly put out documentaries, broadcast in prime time, that took on some of the most important issues of the day and pulled them apart for a national viewing audience.
Today, he laments, "We [as a nation] are not educated well enough to perform the necessary act of intelligently selecting our leaders." He’s right to find much of the fault for this in the boardrooms of corporations that run the major television networks. As long they simply regard news as another profit center in a multinational business, the keepers of the public’s most immediate source of information ignore a higher duty— to make us aware of what’s really happening in our world.
Scott Martelle quoted Cronkite in the LA Times today as telling students that, "If we fail at that, our democracy, our republic, I think, is in serious danger."