Like many others, I've been thinking a lot this weekend about the death of Walter Cronkite. Cronkite was such a presence for those of us who grew up with him escorting viewers through the major events of the 1960s and 70s.
I find it very difficult to separate a news anchor's on-air presence from his/her journalistic chops. I think a journalist's credibility is linked to how thoroughly they've researched what they report, how willing they are to go beyond the safe conventions for talking about an issue, and how clearly they can make connections between news and our daily lives. Yet, there's something else that makes a big difference. It's the area in which Cronkite surpassed many other equally accomplished journalists.
Walter Cronkite gave us a sense of comfort and connection. His fatherly appearance and vocal qualities helped us to digest some of the toughest stories we would ever hear or see. From the Vietnam War to the Apollo Moon landing, from urban riots to serial killings. Cronkite's strong and comforting presence helped us process tumultuous decades. It's a talent that journalists don't often talk about, but one that viewers and listeners respond strongly to.
As we begin this week, I'll be thinking about Cronkite's legacy and the example he's set for all of us who attempt to help members of our audiences come to terms with the tougher parts of our world.