by Rick Bretz
The past couple of weeks have reminded everyone that during a crisis, Americans turn to news channels and programs to keep them current on the events that move through our lives. Journalists and broadcasters are considered to be the authors of history’s first rough draft. It is this rough draft that historians seek out ten or twenty years from the event to write their potential best sellers. These professionals often get beat up for not getting it right or for omitting facts when the heat is on with five minutes to go before air time. Viewers often look upon them with disdain for inserting their opinions and not covering the whole story. Today in the 24 hour news cycle, television news is under the deadline pressure to get it right and get it correct–now . The public doesn’t want it 10 minutes from now but right now in our world of the Smart Phone and travelling laptops and I-Pads. The following list is my best news anchors of all time. It was a time when different rules applied and the deadline pressure was at least a few hours–just enough time to get the story nearly right.
1. David Brinkley–NBC and ABC (NBC-1956-1971 and 1976-1979) (ABC-1981-1998)
My favorite and it’s not even close. I liked his one-of-a-kind delivery and his dry humor and views on current events. When he moved to ABC to do his Sunday weekend show, it was required viewing for me. I looked forward to his closing commentaries every Sunday. I just knew he was about to say something in those few minutes at the end of the show that would make me think, make me laugh or both.
2. Douglas Edwards-CBS-(1948-1962)
He was a trailblazer. He set a standard along with John Cameron Swayze for everyone else to meet or exceed.
3. Frank Reynolds-ABC (1968-1970)
You can just tell when someone is a true professional and care about his work. Frank Reynolds came across on the television as someone who lived and breathed news.
4. Walter Cronkite-CBS (1962-1981)
It seems that Walter Cronkite was there for many of the major news events, The Kennedy Assassination, The Vietnam War, the Political Conventions, The NASA moon landings. The World War II correspondent had seen it all and always struck the right note for a story.
5. John Chancellor-NBC (1970-1982)
He was smooth as silk in his delivery and could write some of the best news commentaries about current topics. He also scores points for narrating Ken Burns’ PBS documentary on Baseball.
6. Harry Reasoner-CBS (60 Minutes) and ABC (CBS-1968-1970 and 1978-1991) (ABC-1970-1978)
He was a terrific writer and interviewer for “60 Minutes”. He anchored the news for ABC during some of the most turbulent years in America’s social history.
7. Max Robinson-ABC (1978-1983)
I admire people who lead the way. This anchor and the next person did just that. He was a trailblazer in every sense of the word as the first African-American network news anchor. He had terrific voice and a great delivery. He made the three anchor format of Max Robinson, Frank Reynolds and Peter Jennings work smoothly from his desk on “World News Tonight”.
8. Barbara Walters ABC and NBC (ABC-1976-1978) (NBC-Today Show-1961-1976) (ABC-Co-host of 20/20-1984-2004)
Another anchor who was a first, the first woman anchor of a network news, ABC Evening News, while co-anchoring with Harry Reasoner. You had to be tough, working news in those days among the all-male anchor club. She didn’t back down and she was a true professional, She is revered in her field today because of her catalogue of quality work. She led the way for Connie Chung, Katie Couric and several other women on the 24 hour news channels we see today.
Honorable Mentions– Bernard Shaw-CNN, John Chancellor-NBC, Frank McGee-NBC, Peter Jennings-ABC, Connie Chung-CBS, Chet Huntley-NBC
Do you have your favorites? Leave a comment and tell me why?