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Walter Cronkite has passed


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When's the memorial service at the Staples Center? Will it be broadcast live on the major news networks and discussed for several days thereafter? Do you think Sheila Jackson-Lee will avail herself to the opportunities that this publicity stunt will present?

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Do you think Sheila Jackson-Lee will avail herself to the opportunities that this publicity stunt will present?

Is the sky blue? I think she will find some way to get into this. It may be as small as a 10 second blurb on local TV praising his accomplishments, but she'll find a way. If not that, she'll probably go to his funeral if it's a public ceremony.

Edited by JLWM8609
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it may be the pitchers of beer from the bowling alley last night talking, but when i saw the thread title "walter cronkite has passed", i thought of poor sloan in ferris bueller's day off. the nurse called her out of class and informed her that her grandmother had "passed".

i was saddened to hear of cronkite's......."passing". more so than mj or farrah. the media has changed dramatically in the last two decades.

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This must seem an odd question, but the topic title got me wondering. Is saying "passed" instead of "died" a regional usage? I would always say "died" or perhaps even "passed away".

At least he didn't label the thread "Walter Cronkite Gave Up the Ghost". I'm not sure where that usage comes from, but it always seems to crop up as a thesaurus entry on MS Word when I'm checking my morbid rhetoric.

Back on Cronkite, why was it that a newsreader was so trusted?

Back then, talent and journalism weren't mutually exclusive.

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At least he didn't label the thread "Walter Cronkite Gave Up the Ghost". I'm not sure where that usage comes from, but it always seems to crop up as a thesaurus entry on MS Word when I'm checking my morbid rhetoric.

It strikes me as a bit of a euphemism: "he 'passed' ". I'm still guessing it is maybe a southern thing.

Back then, talent and journalism weren't mutually exclusive.

No disrespect to Mr Cronkite, but I have never thought that reading from a teleprompter required all that much talent.

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It strikes me as a bit of a euphemism: "he 'passed' ". I'm still guessing it is maybe a southern thing. No disrespect to Mr Cronkite, but I have never thought that reading from a teleprompter required all that much talent.

Cronkite was not a newsreader, in the modern sense of that word. He wasn't one of those people who could be hired off the street to sit in front of a camera and read other peoples' words off a prompter.

Cronkite was a journalist, in every important sense of that word. Read his biography for goodness sake. He spent years working as a print reporter before he ever got into TV in 1950. As a war correspondent for UPI he covered WWII from start to finish, and later covered the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials. He was at CBS for more than ten years before he became the anchor of the evening news.

He brought his famous perfectionist work ethic to that job and he demanded the same attitude from every person involved in putting the news on the air. As the anchor, he personally wrote every word he read on the air, and he worked with the Executive Producer to supervise the writing and production of the stories from the reporters and correspondents. People who didn't give 100 percent every day didn't last long when Cronkite was there.

It's why CBS News was known as the "Tiffany's" of network news. The standard by which all other networks were judged. It's an insult to Cronkite's memory to refer to him as a "newsreader", or imply that he did nothing more than read from a prompter.

Item the Second: Saying "he passed" isn't a "southern thing." It's actually a very old English term that comes from Latin. The Latin word "passus" means "suffer" or "suffered." "Passus" found its way into English by way of the Latin version of the Nicene Creed, which down in the body of the text states that Jesus "passus, sepultus est". When the Bible and the Creed were translated into English for the Anglican Church in the 1500s, that phrase became "he suffered death and was buried." By that time, many English speaking people were already saying "pass" and "pass away" when saying that someone had died, and many people still use it, even if they don't know where it comes from.

The phrase "give up the ghost" has a similar history, and it's a lot older than you think. It's a very interesting story.

Check out this link: http://www.keyway.ca/htm2006/20060517.htm

Edited by FilioScotia
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No disrespect to Mr Cronkite, but I have never thought that reading from a teleprompter required all that much talent.

He didn't use a prompter the way TV anchors do today. That was mostly after his time. Paper prompters were rare at the network level because the talent was expected to know what they were talking about. The first computerized prompter wasn't out until 1982. Places I worked as late as 1998 still used paper prompters.

In the time when Cronkite was active, news anchors weren't just anchors. They were among the best journalists in the world. Technically, they were "managing editors" and took pride in their craft. They knew what they were talking about and understood things in ways that regular people didn't. It wasn't until the 1980's that news anchors were replaced by the meat puppets that many stations have today, the result of a need for higher ratings spurred by the fact that stations are no longer answerable to the public, but only to Wall Street investment houses. The last real "anchor" was Tom Brokaw, who very proudly wore the "managing editor" badge.

I may be mistaken, but somewhere in J-School I think I remember it being said that he was the first "anchor" -- that the word was coined to describe how the newscast centered around him.

And since you brought it up -- yes, reading from a teleprompter does require talent. Public speaking isn't easy. If it was, business magazines wouldn't be full of ads for $10,000 courses for sales people and middle managers to learn how to do it. If public speaking was easy, churches would be full since people wouldn't get bored by the message being preached. If it was easy, comedy clubs would be overflowing with talent. If it was easy, I wouldn't have have wasted weeks of my time sorting through hundreds of resume tapes to fill on-air positions.

Everyone thinks that public speaking is easy, but that's because they're talking to one person -- themselves -- in their head. Doing the same thing for an audience is a different talent. Doing it for a live audience is a different talent. Doing it for radio and television is yet another talent.

I've called people on this before -- brought people in to TV and radio stations where I worked and given them a screen test because they were shooting off their mouths about how easy it is. In every case, they failed miserably.

I'm not saying the bubbleheads on the air these days are smart. Many aren't. Some are. But reading adequately on television is not easy. It's like saying, "Being a librarian is easy -- all you have to do is throw books on a shelf."

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Both passing and giving up the ghost are phrases related to the Christian belief that one has a soul. I don't doubt that Filio's statement of the origins of passing are correct. In more recent times, a similar but distinct belief is that one is merely passing through this world to another, presumably heaven. When one 'passes', their soul is believed to have passed to the next life, while the physical body stays. Giving up the ghost is the same, though crass, theory. When one dies, his soul leaves the body, thereby having 'given up the ghost (soul)'.

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He didn't use a prompter the way TV anchors do today. That was mostly after his time. Paper prompters were rare at the network level because the talent was expected to know what they were talking about. The first computerized prompter wasn't out until 1982. Places I worked as late as 1998 still used paper prompters.

In the time when Cronkite was active, news anchors weren't just anchors. They were among the best journalists in the world. Technically, they were "managing editors" and took pride in their craft. They knew what they were talking about and understood things in ways that regular people didn't. It wasn't until the 1980's that news anchors were replaced by the meat puppets that many stations have today, the result of a need for higher ratings spurred by the fact that stations are no longer answerable to the public, but only to Wall Street investment houses. The last real "anchor" was Tom Brokaw, who very proudly wore the "managing editor" badge.

I may be mistaken, but somewhere in J-School I think I remember it being said that he was the first "anchor" -- that the word was coined to describe how the newscast centered around him.

And since you brought it up -- yes, reading from a teleprompter does require talent. Public speaking isn't easy. If it was, business magazines wouldn't be full of ads for $10,000 courses for sales people and middle managers to learn how to do it. If public speaking was easy, churches would be full since people wouldn't get bored by the message being preached. If it was easy, comedy clubs would be overflowing with talent. If it was easy, I wouldn't have have wasted weeks of my time sorting through hundreds of resume tapes to fill on-air positions.

Everyone thinks that public speaking is easy, but that's because they're talking to one person -- themselves -- in their head. Doing the same thing for an audience is a different talent. Doing it for a live audience is a different talent. Doing it for radio and television is yet another talent.

I've called people on this before -- brought people in to TV and radio stations where I worked and given them a screen test because they were shooting off their mouths about how easy it is. In every case, they failed miserably.

I'm not saying the bubbleheads on the air these days are smart. Many aren't. Some are. But reading adequately on television is not easy. It's like saying, "Being a librarian is easy -- all you have to do is throw books on a shelf."

I stand corrected! -_-

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A contrary take on Cronkite, from Forbes.

Thankfully, That's Not The Way It Was

Andy Kessler, 07.20.09, 04:28 PM EDT

Walter Cronkite represented complacency and mediocrity.

I've always had a problem with Walter Cronkite. He had this mind-meld grip on the brain of everyone, including me, who came of age in the 1960s and 1970s, with his subliminal promotion of mediocrity and complacency that kept an entire generation in the doldrums. And no, I'm not talking about his views on the Vietnam War and LBJ's line "If I've lost Cronkite, I've lost middle America." That was just noise.

Look, the guy could read the news okay. It's not rocket science. "Uncle Walter" had the anchor seat on the CBS Evening News from 1962 to 1981, back when people actually watched the news on television. How quaint. Seven o'clock, right after the local news. Like clockwork, finish dinner, put on Cronkite. And he was good--heck, he was the master. He taught himself to speak slowly, with a half regal, half Midwestern accent, so he could penetrate American minds, and infect them with his mystical powers of persuasion.

Am I talking about liberal media bias? No. C'mon, stay with me here. Every night, right after the news stories and vignettes on acid rain and student protests and Dan Rather in the jungles of Vietnam and crumbling cities and heroin epidemics and exposés on Watergate and fraud and corruption and burning slums, Walter Cronkite would turn to the camera, and with almost undisguised smugness, tell me, right to my face, "... And that's the way it is."

Liberal schmiberal. That was a cover. He was the voice of the establishment, The Man trying to keep us down.

Link to the article

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A contrary take on Cronkite, from Forbes.

That was a thinly-veiled use of Cronkite's death as the justification for a politically-charged article trying to link the current political and cultural environment to one that was prevalent during stagflation. Cronkite had practically nothing to do with it, except that his name and his six-word slogan were appropriated by the author as a hook to get people to read the article that otherwise wouldn't have. It worked, apparently.

To be clear, I sympathize with the message being presented. But this is neither the appropriate thread or sub-forum, and the bait-and-switch of the subject matter was in poor taste.

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