Cronkite, Walter

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Cronkite, Walter

Walter Cronkite (Walter Leland Cronkite, Jr.) (krŏng´kīt, krŏn´–), 1916–2009, American news broadcaster, b. St. Joseph, Mo. He left (1935) the Univ. of Texas to write for the Houston Press and later for other Scripps-Howard newspapers and to work in radio. After joining the United Press wire service in 1939 he served as a World War II correspondent (1942–45) and was a reporter at the Nuremberg trials and in Moscow (1946–48). He then left print journalism to again work in radio broadcasting.

In 1950 he turned to the new medium of television, joining the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS), where he covered (1952) the first televised presidential nominating conventions. A decade later he was named managing editor and anchor of the "The CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite," which became American television's dominant evening news program. Calm and authoritative, he became a national institution, and in 1973 was voted America's most trusted public figure. He was especially known for his coverage of such events as the 1968 Democratic convention; the Vietnam War; the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, and Martin Luther King, Jr.; the Watergate affair, and the accomplishments of the American space program. In 1981 he stepped down as news anchor and became a special correspondent for CBS News; he subsequently made several documentaries and also did programs for other networks. His books include Challenges of Change (1971) and a memoir (1996).

See his Conversations with Cronkite (with D. Carleton, 2010); biography by D. Brinkley (2012).

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