[June 27, 2015] I remember my family sitting in front of our black and white RCA television set each evening to listen to Edward Murrow on CBS Evening News … and we only got good reception on that one channel. In the 1950s, Murrow was a favorite of my dad who insisted that we all hear about important events of the day. “This man you can trust,” my dad would say to the three of us little children of the rural South.
Murrow was the right man in the right place in the right era. His talents were a perfect match for radio which was a young profession in the 1937 when he joined the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS). In many ways, CBS and much of radio and television broadcasting is what it is today for the strong presence of Murrow.
“Anyone who isn’t confused really doesn’t understand the situation.” – Edward Murrow
In his achievements we can clearly see key leadership qualities. In his early reporting from Europe in the lead up to World War II to his reporting on the War in Vietnam, his uncompromising demand for professionalism and ethics made him a legend in the broadcasting business. Some of his traits were:
- Brilliant communicator (especially adept at the use of the English language)
- An educator (helping America transition from an isolationist nation to superpower
- Dedicated to the quality of excellence in broadcasting
- Wholeheartedly supported the cause of democracies
- Intelligent (but not an intellectual), civil, compassionate, and sensitive to his audience
- Ability to talk with ordinary people
- Gracious, impeccable manners, but also very private
Murrow had the ability to take something happening in one part of the word and make it comprehensible and recognizable thousands of miles away.1 In addition, he had a special talent for giving his broadcasts a personal touch. For this reason, Murrow was the most trusted man in radio and television and one of the most influential men of our time. It was once said that he had more influence than any ambassador or senator.
As he would say at the end of his broadcasts, “Good night, and good luck.”
For a good example of Edward Murrow, here he is in 1939 on radio announcing the outbreak of World War II when Britain declared war on Nazi Germany: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ktOz6GGaqwU
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 David Halberstam. The Powers That Be, 1979.
[Note] Some good articles on Edward R. Murrow: