I’m old enough to remember when the evening network newscasts were ruled by figures that when they said something was happening…you knew how important it was.
The three men above: Walter Cronkite of CBS (left), John Chancellor of NBC (upper right) and Harry Reasoner of ABC (lower right) were who Americans turned to when we needed to know what was going on with our world.
ABC — I should say — later had an unusual arrangement with a three-headed anchor setup with Frank Reynolds in Washington, DC; Max Robinson (the first African-American network anchor) in Chicago and Canadian import Peter Jennings in London. As the many of the men pictured and mentioned above stepped aside, the faces changed but the trust stayed the same.
The newer guard included Jennings of ABC (left), Tom Brokaw of NBC (center) and CBS’ Dan Rather (right) shepherding us through the tenuous times for a half hour each and every day.
Then the Gulf War happened.
Ted Turner’s Cable News Network changed the game. Thus the 24-hour news cycle was born giving rise to FOX News, FOX Business, MSNBC, CNBC and all the rest. Their advent forced the once all-powerful network news organizations to rethink they way they present themselves into American homes each night. Still the trio above served as the consistent faces of network news for years.
With news feeds on Facebook, Twitter and nearly every internet website, people weren’t turning to the gray-haired man on the anchor desk anymore for their news. The networks (most notably CBS and ABC) turned to women to lead their outlets. Katie Couric (below left) and Diane Sawyer made their marks in (fairly) recent years.
As America’s news needs shifted, the musical (anchor) chairs continued to as well with Bob Woodruff and Elizabeth Vargas (co-anchors) and Charles Gibson at ABC; Brian Williams at NBC and Scott Pelley at CBS all taking their turns behind the desk..and all stepping away for various reasons. Some controversial..some not.
Today the shift is noticeably younger and more (social) media savvy. NBC’s Lester Holt (below left) is the grand old man of the set at 58. ABC’s David Muir (below center) is a “young-un” at 43. If you think that’s young, CBS just named 42-year-old Jeff Glor (below right) as its soon-to-be top anchor.
The landscape of network news has indeed changed.
For me…long live RADIO where the content of the news still matters and the anchors are heard..and not seen.