Walter Cronkite’s Legacy and Social Media’s Responsibility

The death of CBS news anchor Walter Cronkite and news coverage of his storied career in the development of television journalism in the 20th century gives me pause as the world of media continues to change at breakneck speed. Especially within the realm of social media.

Everyone knows Cronkite’s title of “most trusted man in America”. And most agree, that we will never see anyone in the unique position that he held in America for over 20 years.
The very way that news is gathered and disseminated, and by whom, guarantees this.

But it also should remind us, that although there will no longer be a single, trusted source for our news, we are all now responsible for what information is disseminated. Every link, every tweet, every rumor has the potential to influence people.

In virtually every post I have read about blogging, the mandate is stated. “you must establish trust” with your readers. But maybe even more important, is that all of us as consumers of information must be trusted as well. Trusted that we will research a story before re-tweeting. Trusted that we will think about the potential consequences of a story before hitting “send”. And trusted that we will use these incredible channels of communications that sit on our desktops to do good, and not just a channel to sell goods.

One thing that Walter Cronkite gave us was a great example of what to do when given such incredible responsibility. He showed us the way, and it is now, our responsibility to respect it.

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