Thursday, October 15, 2015

The End of Edward R. Murrow

Broadcast journalism legend Edward R. Murrow

“On April 27, 1965, I was flying over the Atlantic on my way back from a two-day meeting with Hugh Greene, director general of the BBC, and his news chiefs,” recalled Fred Friendly, who was then the head of CBS News, but who had partnered with Edward R. Murrow in high-profile, high-principled news broadcasts during the previous decade.
“We were over the Irish Sea when the stewardess came back with a message for me relayed from Shannon. ‘Your friend Mr. Murrow died today,” she said.
Murrow, who’d developed lung cancer and had lived for two years after an operation to remove his left lung, died in his home two days after his 57th birthday
“The plane was two-thirds empty and it was as good a place as any to be silent for five hours,” Friendly wrote. “When we got near enough to the United States for communication, I asked the pilot to give CBS in New York a brief message to be sent to all bureaus and correspondents. In it, I quoted something Ed said in his last radio broadcast to the English people when he left London after the war: ‘You lived a life instead of an apology.’ My message said that this quotation fit Ed Murrow as much as it did the British people, and that it was something for the profession he left behind to aim for.
“In Remembrance Rock, ‘The Old Abider,’ the term of affection Ed and I had for Carl Sandburg, wrote: ‘…The shroud has no pockets … the dead hold in their clenched hands only that which they have given away.’ Ed Murrow, who slept too little and worked and smoked too much, had always said he wanted ‘to wear out, not rust out.’ He did. He went to the grave with nothing — not even his voice was left at the end — but for a man with no pockets in life, he died the richest man I’ve ever known.
“During the period of Murrow’s service in Washington and his long illness, there was no more attentive a friend than (CBS Chairman of the Board William S.) Paley, and this meant much to Murrow. The chairman traveled to La Jolla, California, to visit him, called him often for advice on news matters and made it clear to Ed, as did everyone in the news division, that his return to CBS as an active broadcaster or as a consultant was both needed and desired.”
“I don’t know which of all the farewells would have pleased him most, but two brief paragraphs from Eric Sevareid’s broadcast of April 27 come closest to what I felt:
“There are some of us, and I am one, who owe their professional life to this man. There are many, working here and in other networks and stations, who owe to Ed Murrow their love of their work, their standards and sense of responsibility. He was a shooting star; we will live in his afterglow a very long time.”

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