Twilight of the television idols: Collective memory, network news and the death of Walter Cronkite

Matt Carlson, Daniel A. Berkowitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations

Abstract

The death of legendary CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite in 2009 impelled former and present television journalists to revisit both Cronkite as an individual and the journalistic era of the 1960s and 1970s in which he worked. Through a qualitative analysis of television and National Public Radio (NPR) discourse in the four days following Cronkite's death, this study examines emergent interpretive patterns in the memorializing of the anchor. Beyond a nostalgic return to the past, the death of Walter Cronkite provided the journalistic community with an occasion to discuss the state of television news. By comparing Cronkite and his era with the present, television journalists were able to contrast an era when television news was dominated by only a handful of powerful networks with the fragmented, heterogeneous news environche present as well as a narrative of decline from an era of mass audiences and cultural power never to be repeated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)410-424
Number of pages15
JournalMemory Studies
Volume5
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2012
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Collective memory
  • Walter Cronkite
  • interpretive community
  • television news

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