Friday, July 17, 2009

Cronkite’s passing reminds me of a life in journalism…

Or, I should say, one that almost happened.

I grew up on Walter Cronkite. I remember the news in the evening, the gravelly voice, and “that’s the way it is”, but I especially remember being in awe of the idea that one person could be so in touch with the world, so in tune, to actually know what was going on and its context, to see the world honestly. And though my first writing was far from journalistic, I took an early plunge into journalism in Junior High School, writing for the school paper.

I wanted so much to be able to speak with authority. I wanted to tell what happened, to say something important. Sadly, though, I didn’t have what it took. I always fell back on easy one-liners and wit because, despite my love of journalism, I wanted to make people laugh. So, by the time I was on the high school paper, I’d eschewed real journalism for my own brand of opinion pieces, embracing a column I called My Side.

I loved journalism from afar and yet now I stand on the brink of writing my next book of philosophy and find that, though I’ve written more than my share of material to make people laugh, I’ve also learned from the example Cronkite (and so many others) set for me. And I will try in my own way to be in touch with the world and put things in context, honestly. I may not do it in front of a camera – not many of us do – but I think if more of us strived to do that the world might be a better place.

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