Saturday, October 01, 2005

Pressure media managers to save democracy, Cronkite urges

Society of Professional Journalists: "Cronkite: journalists should pressure employers for better news
He's in his late 80s, a little unsteady on the legs and, as he describes it, 'as deaf as a damn post.' Former 'CBS Evening News' anchor Walter Cronkite might be a lion in winter, but during a brief visit to Los Angeles earlier this week he showed that he's still a lion. Cronkite, who retired from the anchor chair in 1980, has had a quarter-century to watch broadcast news from the sidelines, and he doesn't think the current generation of TV journalists is doing a bad job. Corporate broadcast owners, though, are another story, says Cronkite. He believes they are paying more attention to Wall Street than to the health of the democracy at a time when the nation's dedication to education has wavered. 'We [as a nation] are not educated well enough to perform the necessary act of intelligently selecting our leaders,' Cronkite, 88, said during a day of speeches and interviews Tuesday at USC's Annenberg School for Communication, where he helped present the biannual Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Television Political Journalism. Cronkite issued a call-to-arms for fellow journalists -- primarily broadcast -- to pressure 'our employers, those who are more concerned with profits than they are with performance,' to replace the current roundups of celebrity profiles and personal health and finance pieces with 'the news of the day.' 'If we fail at that,' Cronkite said, 'our democracy, our republic, I think, is in serious danger.'

Source: Scott Martelle, The Los Angeles Times,0,1013269.story?coll=la-home-style

Link: Webcast of the event (RealPlayer video)

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