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What did Walter Cronkite think about online journalism?

July 23rd, 2009Posted by in Editors' pick, Journalism

On Monday, The Washington Post hosted a live Q&A with Marlene Adler, former chief of staff to Walter Cronkite, the much-respected news anchorman who died last week, aged 92. WashingtonPost.com users put questions about his career to her. What would Cronkite have thought of the internet and its impact on journalism, they wondered. Adler said that Cronkite would have adapted easily to online journalism, but that he was worried about internet source attribution.

Full Q&A at this link…

Here are a couple of excerpts from the interview (Hat-tip: StinkyJournalism):

Chevy Chase, Md (…) “How did Mr. Cronkite feel about technology in general, and specifically as it relates to news and the demise of newspapers”

Marlene Adler: (…) “He loved the new technology, (the Internet) but also saw the problems with reliability of news delivery. He was concerned that news sources on the Internet were not attributable and worried that it would further diminish trust in the news media.

“About newspapers disappearing, he was sad indeed. He was a newspaper man first and loved that part of his life and that business. He was incredulous that entire cities could be without a newspaper.”

Washington, D.C.: “A friend was supposing that she thought Cronkite would have more easily adapted to online journalism because of his work for UPI. What were his thoughts about balancing speed and accuracy, and did he really think it was much different from what countless wire reporters have done for years?”

Marlene Adler: “As a newspaper man and a TV reporter, speed and accuracy were what it was all about. Getting the facts, getting them right and getting the story out first, whenever possible. He didn’t like to be scooped by another network or print reporter. However, he would not release a story, even if it meant being second, if he could not authenticate his sources. I, too, think he would easily have adapted to online journalism.”

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  • http://thecyanidehole.blogspot.com Jimmy Montague

    Uncle Walter being worried about source attribution by internet journalists rings hollow. Read his autobiography (A Reporter’s Life. Alfred A. Knopf; New York, 1996), in which any number of people are accused of saying this, that, or the other thing, you find not ONE footnote and there is no index. Evidently Walter believed that attribution is for mere mortals and that gods such as he were exempt from such standards.

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