Saturday, July 18, 2009

"and that's the way it is"

I was watching the news last night and they broke in with the announcement that Walter Cronkite had died. He was 92 and had lived an amazingly full life. The network then launched into non-stop Cronkite cpverage with archival footage of newscasts, interviews and rarely seen photos of Mr. Cronkite. I'm assuming that news centers keep obituary files ready in the wings for occasions such as this. God forbid we'd have to wait longer than a commercial break after someone famous dies to retrace the steps & contribution of their lives.

There is something disorienting about instant access to someone's life story without any time to process their death. I guess the news business has to keep our attention - after all, some other famous person might die tomorrow and we'll have to be ready to watch their life story flash before us. But what effect does this have on our ability to grieve for others and for ourselves?

(the photo is of Walter Cronkite announcing the death of JFK- a vivid memory for someone from my generation)

"and that's the way it is" is how he signed off every night


Sandy said...

I remember that. I also remember when man stepped on the moon and he wiped away a tear. He was INVOLVED. And that made all the difference.

Yes, you're right. Obituaries and biographical pieces are prepared on just about every celeb and other person in the news, waiting.

We want to process Cronkite's death, but two generations have never known him. Therefore, I suggest that those instant bio/obits are actually quite helpful to the young.


Karen said...

My grandfather only spoke Portuguese. He loved Walter Chronkite. He felt that he was close enough to Mr. Chronkite to call him, "Walt." I loved listening to him speaking to my father and hearing "Walt" (in a very heavy Portuguese accent) peppered through the conversation. It made me feel as if I knew what they were talking about.

Becky said...

Does it sometimes seem as if the truth in news went south after Cronkite left broadcasting?
Or are we just overwhelmed by the constant chatter of 24/7 news? Newspapers are turning into internet news and books into "kindle"-grams. I agree with you that there isn't the time or respect shown for losses, ours and other people's.

Vicki said...

I agree. It's another sign of the times, but it could be just the nature of the beast. Being first to get the scoop is one of the prime directives in media.