What some call ‘progress’ is not always the best way forward. Let me explain.
This past week CBS made the decision, nearly six months after Walter Cronkite’s death, to remove his voice from the “CBS Evening News.’’ His introduction of Katie Couric was designed when she took over anchor duties, as a way to show that the time-honored standards of CBS News would continue into the future. This week a new voice-over featuring actor Morgan Freeman is now the opening for the newscast. While I think Freeman is one amazing actor, and very much enjoy his roles on the big screen, I think the voice of Cronkite was more fitting for the network. At a time when journalistic standards are weakening in some cases, and more Americans question the credibility of news reports, the sound of ‘Uncle Walter’ was a reminder that bedrock principles still matter. He was one of those reporters who knew how to write a news story before he landed on television, and understood the necessity of getting the story right was more important than getting it first. Some mighty important standards that still are worth their weight in gold for today’s newsrooms. Connecting today’s news programs with the success and admiration of reporters like Cronkite might seem old-fashioned to some. But to many like myself who see the charm in linking the generations of reporters at CBS News, the removal of Cronkite’s voice is another sign that we are moving forward, but losing something important on the way.