“And That’s The Way It Is”-Walter Cronkite’s Centennial.

Those of us old enough to remember Walter Cronkite anchoring the evening news cast, his gentle, wise countenance and rich, soothing voice only occasionally revealing his emotional reaction to a story or event will be pleased by the feature by  Laura Byerley  on Walter Cronkite’s centennial November 4th.

Cronkite was a graduate of University of Texas-Austin in the 1930’s where he worked for the student newspaper as well as the campus radio station. He was an anchor at CBS from 1962-1981 and was known for his truly balanced, accurate reporting and calm demeanor. For many Americans, he was the single most trusted news source.

University of Texas-Austin is the proud home of his papers and journals at the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History.

His signature sign off, “And that’s the way it is,” was both definitive and reassuring and served as a way to provide closure to the tumultuous events he covered during his nearly two decades at the anchor desk.

windmill-at-dusk windmill at dusk 

The post also features a video of a wonderful public art installation by Ben Rubin, titled “And That’s the Way It Is.” The work features archival and current news  text scrawled across a campus building from projectors.  It is a fascinating commentary on how news has changed in the thirty plus years since Cronkite’s retirement, from a single authoritative narrator to fragmented, disembodied text.

The life and work of Walter Cronkite is so rich and covers so many changes that a teacher in US  History, Media Lit, Journalism could develop great material using his life and legacy as a foundation.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How did Walter Cronkite get his start in journalism?
  2. How did Cronkite establish the role of “anchor” in the newscast?
  3. What were some of the important events he covered in his two decade career as an anchor?
  4. How has broadcast news and news in general evolved in the 100  year period since his birth?
  5. What is the role of news coverage in our culture?
  6. What is your reaction to Ben Rubin’s public art installation? How does he use the “text” of history in novel ways?
  7.  What other ways are you inspired to “dream, learn and do?”

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