Commentator

Commentator: (n) a person who delivers a live commentary on an event

His name was Walter.

People under the age of forty probably don’t even remember who he was.

His last name was Cronkite. He was a commentator. At one time, he was voted “the most respected man in America.”

In this age of controversy about the news media, Walter stands out as historically unique. Case in point:

I have no idea if he wore ladies underwear.

I have no private information on whether he ever sexually harassed his office staff.

I do not know if he was secretly gay.

These are things that seem to be important to us nowadays. We not only want people to do their job, but we want them to do it to our standard of morality.

But what set Walter Cronkite apart from the rest of the commentators of his day–and certainly of our season–is that he really believed what he was doing was valuable.

It was so important to him that he always delivered the news with sincerity, neutrality, gravitas and yet in a reassuring way, letting the American people know that the sky was not falling–there would be another day, and a good chance it would be better.

Maybe it was the bit of “gruff” in his voice, which hinted at crankiness, or the bristle of mustache, perhaps outdated–but aging uncles and grandfathers never seem to care.

Or maybe it was the fact that when the President of the United States was shot in Dallas, Walter, like us, was mortified–and found himself breaking into tears.

There are three things Walter knew about humanity:

  1. When you run across goodness, proclaim it. It’s not always easy to be human and good.
  2. Don’t expect humans to be good in every arena, but make sure they respect the holy ground of their calling.
  3. And Walter knew that as a human being, he needed to make sure he kept his ears tuned to the mission of his heart, and far away from the gossiping rabble.

Walter Cronkite was a commentator.

But history has shown his mercy, his faithfulness and exactly how uncommon he was.

 

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Anchorman

dictionary with letter A

Anchorman: (n) the man who presents and coordinates a live television or radio news program

Can there be anything more awkward than the word “anchorperson?”

There are so many entrenched ideas in our society that when you try to edit them with more appropriate language, you end up looking like a buffoon.

But there are also so many talking heads on television of both genders, that we sometimes forget the voices and demeanors that are required to deliver the news of our day with the correct level of gravitas.

I think there are three preferred approaches. (Of course, I admit that this may be generational, and younger viewers may wish for a bit more variety. But I think sometimes what you get with variety is a lack of definition.)

What happens in our world is serious enough that we need the report imparted to us in such a way that we can be impacted without being destroyed, and educated without being influenced. (Once again, my opinion.)

So the three approaches I think work in this position–whether it be male or female–are:

1. Flat and monotone.

There are very few things in life that work with this blending, but I remember watching Huntley and Brinkley as a kid, and being totally convinced that neither one of them were capable of a frown or a smile, but that they had their features cemented in place prior to the broadcast, to ensure they would not communicate any emotion whatsoever during their assignment.

2. Fatherly.

Certainly Walter Cronkite comes to mind. Watching him was kind of like having your dad explain the facts of life to you, using a combination of scientific terms with generally accepted colloquialisms, while all the time patting you on the shoulder to comfort you over some of the more shocking details.

3. Bemused and sardonic.

I always find Brian Williams or Diane Sawyer to be this way. With the squint of an eyebrow, you feel that they are a bit confused about what’s going on with the planet, but the little smile at the corner of their lips tells you not to take things too seriously.

On the other hand, the new batch of anchor people, who sport anger, frustration, sarcasm, a political leaning or just disdain for anyone who disagrees with them, leaves me cold.

Yes, I think an anchor man, who often is a woman, needs to give us a chance to absorb what’s happening, assimilate it through our minds, and arrive at some form of conclusion … that resembles our own thinking.

 

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