I wasn’t going to post anything about Walter Cronkite as I don’t have any really interesting oversight – but I’ve ironically found some of the “official” reportage shallow.
Instead I urge you to do the following:
1. Read Howard Bernstein‘s remembrance – it covers not just Cronkite, but sets the stage for what the television news was during the 60s and 70s. What it meant and to how many (Bernstein doesn’t point out this is a double-edged sword – while the modern news landscape is absolutely harder for the production of quality television journalism, it’s also a system with fewer individual egos and opinions as choking points).
2. Watch the following five minute clip of the newscast of the JFK assisnation. Not just the bullet points or the catch-phrases that modern audiences are used to seeing julianned up in documentaries or television specials – but of what news was like at the time. When I think of Walter Cronkite I always think of those few seconds around 5:18 (after he announces the time) where for a few moments you get the sense of the burden on a single man tasked with interpreting a nonsensical world for a nation.
Imagine if all the favourite journalists, columnists, editorialists, bloggers, and talking heads of everyone you know was the same person. That person was Walter Cronkite. Godspeed.
Never before has a man sold so much hydrogen peroxide, in such varied forms, to so many, so loudly, for such incredible value.
Out of all the high profile celebrity deaths this week the person I most likely would have wanted to grow up as, as a kid, would have been Mr. Mays. I was fascinated with infomercials growing up, still am, although I’ve only ever bought one product ever and that was difficult to enunciate my order with my tongue planted as firmly in my cheek as it was.
Infomercials are the closest thing to the modern-day circus, they’re the snake-oil salesman, travelling potion caravans, and miracle-cures for the modern era. It’s just instead of curing hair-loss and “the vapors” they’re cleaning our filthy, filthy houses… and hair-loss. Mr. Mays was one of only a few that have that special P.T. Barnum spark that elevates a pitchman from hucksterisim to craft – and 3:00am local television will be the poorer for it.
Michael, Ed, and Farah will get the majority of media coverage… but I know whose work I’ve watched more in the past 10 years.
Regardless of the debate about his merits (and I even think his later work, is absolutely fascinating) there are very few contemporary artists the general public know at the drop of a last-name reference, and he was certainly one… even if I can’t bring myself to post “Christina’s World” as the thumbnail to this post.