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Good, light read.
on November 29, 2000
I've always regarded Walter Cronkite simply a news-writer/wire service reporter/voice-over narrater/anchorman-presenter. I think he purposely reflects this same idea in his title, A REPORTER'S LIFE -- nothing more, nothing less. His memoir is written similiary in a frank, concise, matter-of-fact style, and is unpretentious (most mercifully). A blue-collar reporter; I was born, went to school here, got a job at the local paper there, went overseas and covered the war, did some radio work, went to TV, retired, and here's what I think of network news today... (That's all). Don't look for any insights or deep introspections. For instance; I was truly interested to know his thoughts, feelings, and dealings with Ed Murrow and The Boys, and how he won CBS news from them. Walt only devoted 2 short paragraphs bascially saying: They were editorialists, and I was more front page news. (That's it?) How about working with Eric Severide? A sentence here, another one there. (Yep, that's it).
The first half of the book is devoted to Walt growing up, working in newspapers, becoming a wire service reporter, and covering the war in Europe. This is some good stuff. Again, nothing intensive, but interesting. The second half of the book is about his television career with CBS. If you grew up watching Walt during this time, well -- there's not many surprises. He repeats how he choked up announcing JFK's death, calling the Vietnam War to be a lost cause, learning of LBJ's death with a phone call live on the air, watching Dan Rather getting slugged (woohoo!) at the Democratic Convention, etc. In the last chapter Walt gives his views on the state of network news and how it can be improved. To me, it was kind of sad. He doesn't fully appreciate or understand that it's dead. Yes, he gives some credit to the alternative news sources and how they're contributing to the demise of network news; but with all the 24 hour cable news channels, satellite TV, 2 channels of CSPAN; and the NY Times, Washington Post, BBC, foreign newspapers, and wire services on the Internet -- why would anyone want to suffer under the 3 network Ted Baxters we have now?
All in all, it is a light, entertaining, and enjoyable read. It's like sitting with a favorite, jovial uncle at the dinner table, while he recounts his life's adventures.