Wednesday, June 7, 2017
In this world of constant communication, we are probably better off without any kind of quality control. Even the bits and pieces we accidentally overhear tend to make us cringe. We are blessed that we don't have to hang in for entire conversations of idiocy.
Here's an example: Dear Friend and I were having dinner for two in a delightful restaurant. A diner nearby whipped out her cellphone and proceeded to tell whomever was on the other end about everything that was on her plate. She missed no detail, item by item. On and on. For diners all around her, there is precious little news in asparagus.
And news, I suspect, is what most of us are looking for. How that news is communicated varies from time to time and place to place but there is one thing for sure, change is the name of the game. Take a short trip in the time machine back to the earlier days of broadcast network news (You may have to get help from your parents, or your grandparents, for this one.)
There are names from the early days that few remember now. Lowell Thomas, John Cameron Swayze, Douglas Edwards. The true golden era of scheduled broadcast news featured Walter Cronkite, Chet Huntley & David Brinkley. There was John Daly, John Chancellor, Mike Wallace, Barbara Walters and a host of others, including Tom Brokaw, Roger Mudd, Martin Agronsky, Frank Reynolds, Harry Reasoner, Peter Jennings, Bob Shieffer, Howard K. Smith, Dan Rather and Connie Chung. Today we have Scott Pelley, Lester Holt, David Muir.
During those golden years I was routinely around broadcasting news, mostly in Manhattan. I had opportunities for face to face conversations with the executives who ran the news departments as well as the TV anchors themselves. All of us have favorites in life and I am no exception. I liked David Brinkley for his quick wit and lack of pretentiousness. I can still see him banging on an old typewriter on a small table pushed up against the wall in a bull ring surrounded by other reporters and nameless staff. Of all the major television anchors, Walter Cronkite was king in my book. Not just because we shared the same (November 4) birthday, but I admired his print background as a war correspondent for United Press. In those days having worked at newspapers gave news anchors extra credibility.
The first network news program was broadcast in May of 1942 over WCBS-TV. I should point out that the early history of claims regarding “the first” is cloudy fame. But still the consensus is that this was the time and place. And who was the “anchorman” for that historic broadcast? None other than Milo Boulton. Remember the name.