4 TV Journalists Who Changed the Media

By Audrey W. | Arcadia Staff
These famous television reporters built their careers on delivering the most important news to their viewers. They reported during some of the nation’s most challenging times, reassuring the public and instilling hope when times felt most bleak. Their work telling stories at home and abroad won them numerous awards and much recognition. Here, we’re highlighting four who have built notable and successful careers.
Walter Cronkite
Most known for his playful sign-off, “and that’s the way it is,” Walter Cronkite was a news anchor who quickly became an iconic figure of the nationwide evening news. He helped launch CBS Evening News in 1962 and was one of the show’s anchors until 1981. In the eyes of the general public, Cronkite was one of the most trusted members of the media, guiding them through testing events like the Vietnam War and Watergate.
Cronkite was raised in Texas and decided to become a news anchor after reading a magazine article about a foreign correspondent. In 1935, he left the University of Texas to begin working for the Houston Post. He covered the European front during World War II and was a correspondent at the Nuremberg trials for the United Press. He joined CBS in 1950, working on a variety of programs before starting as an anchor for the evening news. Throughout his career, Cronkite won numerous awards including the Peabody Award, Emmy Awards, the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1981, and a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003. Cronkite died in 2009 at the age of 92.
Edward R. Murrow
During the height of his career, Edward R. Murrow was one of the most highly respected and influential television reporters in America. After graduating from Washington State College, he took a job at Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) in 1935 where he was sent to London to work on the company’s European Bureau. Here he received firsthand experience covering the German occupation of Austria, the German takeover of Czechoslovakia in 1939, and the Battle of Britain during World War II. This work marked him as an up-and-coming international journalist.
When he returned home from covering the war, Murrow became the vice president of CBS where he oversaw news and education. He began a radio broadcast in 1947 where he produced an hour-long weekly news digest that was eventually moved onto regular television. After his thorough reporting during the mid-century communist scare, Murrow was appointed the director of the U.S. Information Agency in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy. Murrow had a long and successful career before passing away in April 1965.
Peter Jennings
Canadian journalist Peter Jennings reported on America’s biggest stories from 1983 until he died of lung cancer in 2005. Jennings was born in Toronto but moved to New York City in 1962 to begin working for ABC as the youngest news anchor ever. He rose to fame when he covered the terrorist attacks at the 1972 Munich Olympics. Using skills acquired during his time reporting in the Middle East, Jennings and his team hid near the site of the attack to get unique footage. This, along with his coverage of the hostage crisis in Iran and the assassination of Anwar Sadat built his career as an international correspondent and he soon became a beloved face of the evening news.
Jennings was one of the few correspondents in American history that took concern with how children were interpreting the world’s news. He created War in the Gulf: Answering Children’s Questions to address these concerns. During the attacks on September 11, 2001, Jennings remained on the air for 17 hours, providing viewers with updates, taking calls from children, and asking parents to discuss the matter with their kids. Jennings proved himself to be a correspondent who was there for his viewers, leaving behind a lasting legacy.
David Brinkley
During his career, David Brinkley was one of the most well-known faces of the nightly news. When Brinkley was a boy, he was involved in his high school newspaper and fell in love with the reporter’s style of writing. He moved to Atlanta during World War II to write for the United Press International. Brinkley began working at NBC by accident when he moved to Washington D.C. after mistakenly thinking he had a job waiting there for him. When it became apparent there was no prospective work, Brinkley found a job at NBC.
He was one of the company’s first television reporters when it moved from radio to TV and proved himself a savvy news anchor. Along with fellow reporter Chet Huntley, Brinkley started his show, The Huntley-Brinkley Report, which went on to win several Emmy awards. Every night the show ended with Huntley saying “Good night, David” and Brinkley responding with “Good night, Chet” – an exchange that would become popular among viewers. He moved to ABC in 1981 to host a Sunday program that featured him interviewing various guests. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George H.W. Bush in 1992.
The legacies of these television journalists are marked by outstanding achievements that made them beloved in the eyes of their viewers. Together they set a standard for modern journalism.