And That’s The Way It Is…

Chances are you learned a lot about Walter Cronkite this weekend, if you watched or read any of the many tributes.  The pedestal is high, and he is firmly planted on it into perpetuity as the gold standard of journalists and a sterling human being.  

Chances are, through those tributes you relived, or even witnessed for the first time, the watershed events of the 20th Century Cronkite narrated and explained, play-by-play, from his front row seat on the ride of American History.

 The term “news anchor” was actually created for Walter Cronkite. 

 Which leads me to wonder, if Cronkite were starting his career in television news tomorrow, would he make it?  In South Florida?

I’m not so sure.  Because the career can’t start without that first job, that foot in the door.  And in South Florida, the Cronkites-to-be might not get a second look.

Demographically, Cronkite was what people might call Middle America, which is usually a euphemism for Average White Man.  And AVM’s are generally not in high demand in television markets like this one.

That’s not a judgment call, just an observation.  The cast of characters in television newsrooms typically reflect the audience they serve.

(By the way, I am blessed to have colleagues who fit that description who are some of the best journalists in this market, whom I admire deeply, learn from daily, laugh with often, and love. We are a better community because of their work.)

Back to Cronkite.  Would he play in Peoria?  Maybe.  What about Parkland, Sweetwater, South Beach, Lauderhill or Kendall?  Liberty City, Pembroke Pines, Wilton Manors, Homestead?

Sure, you’d like to think.  Every news consumer appreciates a rock-solid, smart journalist who is as real on the air as he/she is in person.  But he would have to get in first.  And what are the chances his first resume tape, the substance and the style,  would be that one among others to get a second look? 

What do you think?

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5 Responses

  1. Glad to hear this story. I’ve noticed some of my favorite white journalists being replaced by ones with much darker skin, some who can’t speak or read well.
    Very sad. Reverse discrimination if you ask me.

  2. Back in Cronkite’s day the news used to be just facts. Unfortunately we have news stations who feel we have to hire people who reach out to a certain demographic. I am tired of watching S. Florida news channels who have spainish reporters who speak perfect English emphasise their spanish last name. Maybe if news stations were more concerned about reporting the news and facts people would not have to write stupid articles about how the greatest news anchor of all time could not get a foot in the door in S. Florida. I was not alive to see Mr. Cronkite do the news, but I know of him from old news reels and narrations of documentaries, and I have yet to see anybody on TV, local or national that can live up to Mr. Cronkite

  3. Walter Cronkite was a reporter, not an anchor. He was successful due to his integrity and the respect he gave to the people he covered. He covered national news, not local stories. There is a big difference and there is no comparison to the local anchors you see in this market. Locals get there national news mainly from the wires. So did Walter, but you also saw him on the front line in Vietnam. You saw him reporting on stories from around the globe. Local anchors rarely do that. Big difference. When most people turn on a newscast, they may see a new face reading the news, but it doesn’t take long to figure out if the newby is a hack or someone who has earned the right to be there (and not just some ethnic representitive of a local demographic). Cronkite was very popular in most markets, including those ethnically diverse. That’s what made him “middle America”. He was well respected and earned every bit

  4. I applaud you for voicing things that are not often mentioned. I am finding it more and more difficult to understand the reporters through their accents.
    I am aware of the latin demographic here in South Florida, but I feel if people are watching English speaking TV the reporters should be speaking CLEAR English.
    English spoken with a Spanish accent is not any more understandable to a Spanish speaking person. I would bet that Telemundo with Anglo anchors would get alot of flack!

  5. Sadly, we’ll never see the likes of a Walter again in our day and age for he was a true hard hitting, no guts//no glory, talk about what’s really news, true classic journalist. The days of the Cronkites, Huntleys and Brinkleys, true tested journalists not impressed and enamored w/themselves—those days are done for good. Now, with the advent of wall to wall, 24/7, non stop round the clock CableNewsWhenYouWantItYouGotIt, it’s the ability to fit even the most important news event, catastrophe or late-breaking item or development neatly into that commonly-demanded 1:20 second 6PM or 11PM news story—be it Miami, Chicago, NYC, Philly or LA, check out that locale’s local coverage; chances are you shall see more of the glamour and the glitz that’s desired by today’s station ownership Ivory Tower execs(sic), rather than the true grit valid essence of the real news story we all want and deserve to know. “And that’s the way it is….” whether you like it or not.

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