April 23, 2008

Happy 100th Birthday, Edward R. Murrow

April 25, 2008, marks the 100th birthday of Edward R. Murrow, the man still seen as the standard-setter for radio and broadcast journalism.

Everyone who listened to CBS Radio during World War II knew Murrow. With his sonorous voice, vivid imagery and use of everyday sounds, he brought the war in Europe into American homes. Flying over Berlin, he described bombs "bursting below like great sunflowers gone mad."

Murrow and his legendary "boys" — journalists (including one woman) he hired from newspapers and wire services — brought insight and immediacy from Europe to listeners back home. Some say Murrow's pointed reports hastened the United States's entry into the war.

After the war, Murrow returned to the United States a radio star — a role he never relished — and later helped shape CBS's fledgling television news operation. In 1951, he and producer Fred Friendly created the television show "See It Now," based on the radio show "Hear It Now," which introduced documentary-style reporting to television.

Murrow and his contributions to journalism are explored in these Newseum exhibits:

  • • The Bloomberg Internet, TV and Radio Gallery includes a section devoted to Murrow that has clips from his CBS News programs "See It Now" and "Person to Person," along with some of his personal items. Journalists covering the war sometimes received the honorary rank of captain. Murrow's uniform, his passport and the trunk in which he stored his clothes can be seen in the gallery. A desk and a microphone Murrow used at CBS also are on display, as are vinyl recordings of "I Can Hear It Now," best-selling recordings he made narrating historical news reports.
  • • Murrow filed his CBS Radio reports from the rooftops of London as German bombs fell. Visitors can see and hear reports and feel the rumble of bombs exploding in "I-Witness: A 4-D Time Travel Adventure," shown daily in the Walter and Leonore Annenberg Theater.
  • • A display case on war reporting in the News Corporation News History Gallery features the ration books Murrow used during World War II. An exhibit on Murrow's contributions to journalism also is featured in the gallery.
  • • A marathon showing of some of Murrow's most memorable broadcasts is now playing in the Documentary Theater on the Concourse Level.

Murrow died in 1965, having written the rules for fairness and integrity that journalists aim for today.

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