Article on Walter Cronkite

Journalism Studies has just published a piece I wrote about Walter Cronkite titled: “Rethinking Journalistic Authority: Walter Cronkite and Ritual in Television News.” This paper emerged after I was struck by all the elements of ritual that kept popping up in commemorations of Cronkite in the days after his death. As journalists sought to explain just what it was that made Cronkite Cronkite, they kept having to move from the stable of go-to journalism norms to deeper questions explaining his appeal. He was a cultural guide; he was everyone’s uncle; he was everyone’s dinner companion. He was the dividing line between work and leisure. Etc. Yet these ideas didn’t fit neatly into journalism’s self-definition of quality. Instead, they signaled a deeper attachment–ritualistic more than merely informative. Of course, I draw on James Carey for this argument to make a larger point about what news does. 

About Matt Carlson

Associate Professor of Communication Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication University of Minnesota
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