The Top Eight News Anchors of All Time

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 BrinkleyNBC 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.

English: Original caption:"NASA Remembers...

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”.

Publicity photo from the Today television prog...
Publicity photo from the Today television program. From left: Gene Shalit, Barbara Walters, and Frank McGee. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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?

18 thoughts on “The Top Eight News Anchors of All Time”

  1. You know you are old when you can remember each of these anchors and are sad that many are no longer alive.

  2. On the other hand, a terrific post for me because it suggests I am less ancient than I thought. I had never heard of 3 of the 8 anchors (and I’ve been a fan of nightly news since I was in middle school though I no longer watch religiously since there are so many other ways of staying “current”).

  3. What no George Putnam….He was known for his catchy phrases “That’s the up-to-the-minute news, and up-to-the-minute that’s all the news” at the end of his broadcast. He concluded the 5:00 PM news with a teaser, inviting viewers back to get the full story at the station’s late evening news program, smiling his signature close, “See ya at ten, see ya then.

      1. Rick Bretz,
        I’m just discovering your parallel paths blog and I’m curious about who you are, where you are geographically, how you developed this blog. I’m an educator (former teacher, school principal, etc.). My website is
        Are you a real person? I tried Googling your name and found your blog posts, but I’m an old-fashioned guy who wants to know who I’m talking to, even on the internet.
        My email is if you have a minute and the inclination to reply!!! Thanks!

  4. Jessica Savitch should have been mentioned as she had the highest ever Q-Rating, just under Walter Cronkite… I don’t care about her personal problems… her professional achievement, look, and style are completely overlooked in this article

    1. Good points. Jessica Savitch was one of the best. Gone too soon. I liked her style and look also. If I had taken style and looks into consideration, the list would have been completely different. Thanks for reading my article and responding.

  5. You left out Tim Russert, who to me was clearly the toughest interview in Washington. It didn’t matter if he was interviewing Democrats or Republicans, or anything else. He was fair, he was honest and he would call bullcrap an anyone who deserved it.

    1. You are right. Tim Russert was a tough interviewer and he treated everyone the same. He is greatly missed, especially on Sunday morning news interview shows.

  6. Then we got news and now cable pundits who reflect the network’s political stance. Have to return to the 6 PM local news, PBS or BBC for real news not meaningless chatter.

  7. YES the good old days when you had no clue what political affiliation the anchorman/woman had! I MISS THOSE DAYS sighhhhhh.

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