Walter Cronkite's Headshot

Walter Cronkite

- Panelist Blurb

Walter Cronkite has covered virtually every news event during his more than 60 years in journalism - the last 48 affiliated with CBS News. He became a special correspondent for CBS News when he stepped down as anchorman and managing editor of the CBS Evening News after 19 years. Affectionately nicknamed "Old Iron Pants" for his unflappability under pressure, Mr. Cronkite's accomplishments—both on-air and off—have won him acclaim and trust from journalism colleagues and the American public alike.

Born in St. Joseph, Missouri on November 4, 1916, Mr. Cronkite covered World War II—landing with the invading Allied troops in North Africa, covering the battle of the North Atlantic in 1942, taking part in the Normandy beachhead assaults in 1944 and participating as one of the first newsmen in B-17 raids over Germany. After reporting the German surrender, Mr. Cronkite established United Press bureaus in Europe, was named United Press bureau chief in Brussels and covered the Nuremberg trials of Goering, Hess and other top Nazis. From 1946 to 1948, he was chief correspondent for United Press in Moscow.

In July 1950, Mr. Cronkite joined CBS News in Washington as a correspondent. He was the anchorman for CBS political convention and election coverage from 1958 to 1980. Mr. Cronkite assumed his duties on the CBS Evening News on April 16, 1962. When he joined the CBS Evening News team, the broadcast was only fifteen minutes long. On September 2, 1963, it became network television's first half-hour weeknight news broadcast and made its debut with Mr. Cronkite's headline-making interview with President John F. Kennedy.

Following his departure from CBS Evening News, Mr. Cronkite covered CBS Reports' Children of Apartheid, which won an Emmy for Outstanding Achievement in a Documentary and the Overseas Press Club Edward R. Murrow Award for Outstanding Documentary. He also anchored the CBS News science magazine series Walter Cronkite's Universe, which debuted as a pilot broadcast in 1979 and ran as a miniseries from 1980 to 1982. In addition, Mr. Cronkite was the only journalist to be voted among the top ten "most influential decision-makers in America" in surveys conducted by U.S. News and World Report and was named the "most influential person" in broadcasting. In 1985, Mr. Cronkite was inducted into the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame.

Mr. Cronkite is an avid sailor of his 60-foot yacht, the Wyntje. He has recorded his experiences sailing Chesapeake Bay to Key West in his book South by Southeast (Oxmoor House, 1983), a sailing tour of America's west coast. Mr. Cronkite's first book, Eye on the World (Cowles, 1971) is an edited compendium of CBS News reporting on the major trends and stories of 1970, in which he provided analysis and commentary.

In addition to his ongoing assignments as a Special Correspondent for CBS, Mr. Cronkite hosts many public affairs and cultural programs for PBS and syndication. In 1993 he and former CBS colleague, Jonathan Ward, formed their own production company, and since that time The Cronkite Ward Company has produced more than 25 award-winning documentary hours for The Discovery Channel, PBS and other networks.

1996 was a year of reflection for Mr. Cronkite during which CBS and Cronkite Ward produced Cronkite Remembers. The two-hour special aired on CBS in May. And, early in 1997, The Discovery Channel broadcast the eight-hour documentary series. Also in 1996, Mr. Cronkite completed his autobiography, A Reporter's Life, published by Knopf.

NOTE: This Bio appeared in the May 21, 1999 program for our "Integrity and the Media" Forum