Television

TV anchorman Walter Cronkite expires at 92

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MUMBAI: Walter Cronkite, the first TV anchorman of the US networks' golden age, died of cerebral vascular disease at the age of 92 on Friday.

Incidentally, he died just three days before the 40th anniversary of the moon landing, another earth-shaking moment of history linked with his relentless reporting.

From 1962 to 1981, Cronkite was the face of the "CBS Evening News", when stories ranged from the assassinations of President John F Kennedy and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. to racial and anti-war riots, Watergate and the Iranian hostage crisis.

It may be noted that it was Cronkite who read the bulletins coming from Dallas when Kennedy was shot on 22 November 1963, interrupting a live CBS-TV broadcast of the soap opera As the World Turns.

Cronkite was the broadcaster on whom the title "anchorman" was first applied, and he became so identified with that role that eventually his own name became the term for the job in other languages (Swedish anchors are known as Kronkiters; in Holland, they are Cronkiters).

Cronkite followed the 1960s space race with open fascination, anchoring marathon broadcasts of major flights from the first suborbital shot to the first moon landing, exclaiming, "Look at those pictures, wow!" as Neil Armstrong stepped on the moon's surface in 1969. In 1998, for CNN, he went back to Cape Canaveral to cover John Glenn's return to space after 36 years.

"It is impossible to imagine CBS News, journalism or indeed America without Walter Cronkite," said CBS News president Sean McManus in a statement. "More than just the best and most-trusted anchor in history, Cronkite guided America through our crises, tragedies and also our victories and greatest moments."

Cronkite was scheduled to speak last January at the 50th anniversary celebrations of the US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama, but ill health prevented him from doing so. 

Paying his condolence to the celebrity TV anchorman, US President Barack Obama said, "He was there through wars and riots, marches and milestones, calmly telling us what we needed to know. And through it all, he never lost the integrity he gained growing up in the heartland. But Walter was always more than just an anchor. He was someone we could trust to guide us through the most important issues of the day."

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