He left a legacy for journalists (and a trope for scolds)

Edward R. Murrow, a native of the Polecat Creek community in Guilford County, died 50 years ago today. As the New York Times observed in his obituary, Murrow’s  “independence and incisive reporting brought heightened journalistic stature to radio and television.”

Today he seems to be remembered most often by critics of his successors in the news media. In 2005 the Washington Post’s Mark Leibovich did the ultimate takedown on “Edward R. Murrow must be rolling over in his grave.”

If you still can’t resist the pull of this hoary rhetorical device, at least don’t refer to the subject as “Edward R. Morrow.”


One thought on “He left a legacy for journalists (and a trope for scolds)”

  1. Once again, Lew, your post, on the 50th anniversary of Ed Murrow’s passing, brings back a couple of TV memories from my time at WFMY-TV.

    It was Friday night, April 30, 1965, three days after Ed Murrow died and five days after his 57th birthday, CBS-TV presented a one hour special program titled “An Evening with Ed Murrow.” The program was a magnificent tribute to Murrow and his legacy and I heard for the first time this famous 1958 Murrow quote about the future of television:

    “This instrument can teach, it can illuminate, yes, it can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise it is merely lights and wires in a box.”

    Then, in January, 1971, on the occasion of the dedication of Murrow Boulevard in Greensboro, Murrow’s longtime friend and CBS colleague Fred Friendly came to town. During his visit, he taped an interview at WFMY for our public affairs program “Newsmaker.” I had the honor of directing that program.

    As a follow up to your post, Lew, I would highly recommend Friendly’s 1967 book “Due To Circumstances Beyond Our Control…”

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