Friends, family and colleagues of renowned journalist Edward R. Murrow remembered the broadcast pioneer and lamented the state of reporting today at the Jack Morton Auditorium Thursday.
Murrow’s son Casey, along with CBS colleagues Richard Hottelet and Marvin Kalb, honored the celebrated broadcaster, who died more than 40 years ago. Friday was the 100th anniversary of Murrow’s birth. More than 250 students, journalists and Murrow fans filled the auditorium to hear from the panelists and see a montage of Murrow’s broadcast clips from radio and television.
“The man invented broadcast journalism in America,” said Michael Freedman, vice president for communications and former general manager of CBS Radio Network News. “No one has done it better.”
The men reflected on Murrow’s often-controversial journalism, from his groundbreaking Holocaust coverage to his dramatic confrontation with Joseph McCarthy over the senator’s anti-communist blacklisting, which inspired the 2005 film “Good Night, and Good Luck.”
Questions for the three guests were then juxtaposed with more Murrow clips, including a powerful passage where Murrow recounted his visit to the Buchenwald Nazi concentration camp in Germany. He was the first journalist allowed into a concentration camp.
Hottelet said Murrow’s coverage of the tragic aftermath of World War II was admirable.
“He was a splendid example of a journalist,” Hottelet said. “He reported most eloquently and was a warm personality.”
When asked about why Murrow is still celebrated, decades after his last broadcast, Hottelet said Murrow had a unique journalistic curiosity.
“Murrow liked to turn over stones and see what was there. He was incurably inquisitive,” he said. “He was not someone who sought to inspire; he sought to provide information to others. He was a hard, bitter realist.”
The two-hour event closed with an question-and-answer session with the audience, where discussion shifted to the validity of journalism today.
“Has the news really lived up to its promise? I would say no,” said Kalb, the last correspondent personally hired by Murrow at CBS News.
After the event, Freedman reflected similar sentiments.
“Journalism could always be better and it could always be worse,” he said. “There are definitely journalists out there who know better, but it has always been that way.”
Sophomore Dean Carson, a student in the School of Media and Public Affairs, said he looks up to Murrow as a broadcaster.
“He had an incredible ability to give news, in not just what he presented but how he presented it,” Carson said. “He was so talented at sharing his opinion but not being opinionated. The name Murrow is to me synonymous with journalism.”