Walter Cronkite
Walter Cronkite

Walter Cronkite has covered virtually every news event during his more than 60 years in journalism—the last 50 affiliated with CBS News. He became a special correspondent for CBS News when he stepped down on March 6, 1981, after 19 years as anchorman and managing editor of the CBS Evening News.

Cronkite joined CBS News in Washington as a correspondent in July 1950. He assumed his duties on the CBS Evening News on April 16, 1962, when the broadcast was 15 minutes in length. On September 2, 1963, the CBS Evening News became network television's first half-hour weeknight news broadcast; its debut featured Cronkite's headline-making interview with President John F. Kennedy.

Upon his departure from the nightly news broadcast, Cronkite's contributions to broadcast news and to journalism were lauded in newspapers and magazines throughout the world. Among the observations made by writers in their tributes to the CBS newsman were: "He established a remarkable trust and admiration in his audience...."; "[His] important contribution was to build and sustain the integrity of the network newscasts, and the threats to that legacy are not now strong enough to prevail...."; "He never discarded his concern for keeping the news straight...."; "He maintained a steady standard of professional excellence."

Early Years and World War II

Born in St. Joseph, Missouri, on November 4, 1916, Mr. Cronkite began his career in journalism as a campus correspondent at The Houston Post during high school and his freshman year at college. He also worked as a sports announcer for a local radio station in Oklahoma City and joined the United Press in 1937, where he remained for eleven years.

It was as a United Press correspondent that Mr. Cronkite covered World War II—landing with the invading Allied troops in North Africa, covering the battle of the North Atlantic in 1942, taking part in the Normandy beachhead assaults in 1944, and participating as one of the first newsmen in B-17 raids over Germany. After reporting the German surrender, Mr. Cronkite established United Press bureaus in Europe, was named United Press bureau chief in Brussels, and covered the Nuremberg trials of Goering, Hess, and other top Nazis. From 1946 to 1948, he was chief correspondent for United Press in Moscow.

Continuing the Legacy After the CBS Evening News

Following his departure on March 6, 1981, from the CBS Evening News, Mr. Cronkite hosted several acclaimed CBS documentary programs, including the Emmy-winning Children of Apartheid and the CBS News science magazine series Walter Cronkite's Universe. In 1985 Mr. Cronkite was inducted into the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame.

Mr. Cronkite was the only journalist to be voted among the top ten "most influential decision makers in America" in surveys conducted by U.S. News and World Report and also was named the "most influential person" in broadcasting. And, in a nationwide viewer opinion survey conducted as recently as 1995, more than a decade after leaving the CBS anchor desk, he again was voted "Most Trusted Man in Television News."

In addition to his ongoing assignments as a special correspondent for CBS, Mr. Cronkite continues to host many public affairs and cultural programs for PBS and syndication. In 1993 he cofounded The Cronkite Ward Company, which has produced more than 40 award-winning documentary hours for The Discovery Channel, PBS, and other networks.

In 1996 Mr. Cronkite's production company, in collaboration with CBS and The Discovery Channel, produced his memoirs entitled Cronkite Remembers. The two-hour CBS special aired in May of that year, and the eight-hour series premiered later on The Discovery Channel. Also in 1996, Mr. Cronkite completed his autobiography, A Reporter's Life, published by Knopf.

Mr. Cronkite and his wife of 60 years live in New York City.

© 2001 by The Stanley Foundation
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