To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Walter Cronkite, a large-scale public celebration featuring some of the nation’s top journalists will be held this fall at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.
Hosted by the Newseum, CBS News and Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, the Cronkite Century Celebration will honor the late “CBS Evening News” anchor and his impact on journalism past, present and future with a series of high-profile events on Sept. 29.
The day’s events will be followed by an evening panel of noted journalists, featuring “CBS Evening News” anchor Scott Pelley; CBS News contributor Bob Schieffer; “PBS NewsHour” anchor Gwen Ifill and more. They will lead a discussion on Cronkite’s influence and the future of news in the Newseum’s Walter and Leonore Annenberg Theater. Moderating the panel will be Leonard Downie Jr., former executive editor of the Washington Post, who now serves as the Cronkite School’s Weil Family Professor of Journalism.
Pelley also will anchor the “CBS Evening News” (6:30-7 p.m. EDT) live from Washington, D.C., on Sept. 29.
“All news media have been transformed since Walter Cronkite left us—but his enduring values remain so important to all of us at CBS News,” said David Rhodes, president of CBS News. “Cronkite’s birthday is the perfect opportunity to reflect on what’s changed—and what hasn’t.”
In addition to the evening panel, the Cronkite Century Celebration will feature a talk earlier that day with noted historian Douglas Brinkley, the author of the acclaimed biography “Cronkite,” as well as a panel discussion with Cronkite School alumni who have graduated in the past five years.
The alumni panelists will explore the anchor’s legacy and influence in a time of digital innovations in news. Panelists will include NBC News reporter Vaughn Hillyard, Washington Post digital editor Tessa Muggeridge, Congressional Quarterly/Roll Call staff writer Elvina Nawaguna, Washington Post sports reporter Master Tesfatsion and Reuters cyber and surveillance policy reporter Dustin Volz. Eric Newton, the school’s innovation chief and former longtime Knight Foundation executive who previously served as the founding managing editor of the Newseum, will moderate the discussion.
Additionally, Don Carleton, executive director of the University of Texas at Austin’s Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, which is home of the Cronkite Papers, will talk about his book “Conversations with Cronkite” in an afternoon program.
Throughout the day, the Newseum will showcase video clips and documentaries about Cronkite in its various theaters and will present gallery talks highlighting its collection of artifacts related to the anchor.
“Whether it’s the report of President Kennedy’s assassination or man’s first steps on the moon, Cronkite’s legacy transcends the generations of visitors who come to the Newseum,” said Jeffrey Herbst, president and CEO of the Newseum. “We’re honored to join these esteemed journalists and institutions in celebrating his lasting contribution to the record of our shared history.”
The September Cronkite Century Celebration at the Newseum is just one of several events honoring Cronkite, who was born on Nov. 4, 1916.
The Cronkite School will award Pelley the Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism at a ceremony Nov. 21 at the Sheraton Grand Phoenix hotel near the ASU Downtown Phoenix campus. The prestigious honor is presented to a leading figure in journalism who embodies the spirit and values of the legendary CBS News anchor. The school also will launch a 100-day social media campaign leading up to Cronkite’s birthday, which will celebrate his legacy.
Cronkite, known as “the most trusted man in America,” was anchor of “CBS Evening News” for nearly 20 years, from 1962-1981. Cronkite shepherded the nation through President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, the Vietnam War, the walk on the moon and the Iranian hostage crisis. Known for his famous sign-off, “and that’s the way it is,” Cronkite won numerous honors and the admiration of a country for his reporting.
In 1984, ASU named its journalism program in honor of Cronkite, who was closely involved with the school until his death in 2009. Cronkite regularly advised leadership and visited with students and faculty. He also presented the Cronkite Award for Excellence to one of the nation’s top journalists.
“Walter Cronkite’s legacy is cemented through his coverage of some of the most iconic events in American history and his commitment to educating future journalists in the time-honored values of accuracy, responsibility, objectivity and integrity,” Cronkite School Dean Christopher Callahan said. “We are excited to celebrate the life of our school’s namesake at this extraordinary event in Washington with our friends at CBS News and the Newseum.”
Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the Newseum is dedicated to free expression and the five freedoms of the First Amendment: religion, speech, press, assembly and petition. The Newseum is on Pennsylvania Avenue between the U.S. Capitol and the White House, and more than 6 million people have visited the museum and its interactive exhibits and theaters since 2008.
More details on the Cronkite Century Celebration, including a schedule and ticket information, will be shared in the coming weeks on the Newseum and Cronkite School websites.
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