This page uses content from the Edward R. Murrow biography page on the English version of Wikipedia and is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. This list of authors can be seen in the page history. Rotten Tomatoes disclaims any and all warranties as to the accuracy or reliability of the content.
Edward R. "Ed" Murrow (April 25 1908 – April 27 1965) was an American journalist and famous media figure. He first came to prominence with a series of radio news broadcasts during World War II, which were followed by millions of listeners in the United States and Canada. Mainstream historians consider him among journalism's greatest figures; Murrow hired a top-flight cadre of war correspondents and was noted for honesty and integrity in delivering the news. A pioneer of television news broadcasting, Murrow produced a series of TV news reports that helped lead to the censure of Senator Joseph McCarthy.
Egbert Roscoe Murrow was born on April 25, 1908 near Polecat Creek, near Greensboro, in Guilford County, North Carolina, the youngest son of Quaker parents. He was a "mixture of English, Scots, Irish and German" descent (). His home was a log cabin without electricity or plumbing, on a farm bringing in only a few hundred dollars a year from corn and hay.
When Murrow was five his family moved to the state of Washington, homesteading thirty miles from the Canadian border, in Blanchard, Washington.
He attended high school in nearby Edison, becoming president of the student body in his senior year and excelling on the debating team. He was on the Skagit County championship basketball team. By that time, the teenage Edward was going by the nickname "Ed". During his second year of college Murrow changed his name from Egbert to Edward.
In 1926, he enrolled in Washington State College in Pullman, Washington, eventually majoring in speech. A member of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity, Murrow was also active in college politics and in 1929, while attending the annual convention of the National Student Federation of America, his speech urging college students to become more interested in national and world affairs led to his election as president of the federation. He then moved to New York after graduating in 1930.
He worked as assistant director of the Institute of International Education from 1932 to 1935, serving as the Assistant Secretary of the Emergency Committee in Aid of Displaced Foreign Scholars, which helped prominent German scholars (mostly Jews) who had been dismissed from academic positions. He married Janet Huntington Brewster on March 12, 1935. Their son, Charles Casey, was born November 6, 1945, in West London.
Murrow joined CBS as director of talks in 1935 and remained with the network for his entire broadcast journalism career. At that time, CBS â?? or the Columbia Broadcasting System, to use its official name of those days â?? did not have a news staff, save for newscaster/announcer Bob Trout. Murrow's job was to line up newsmakers who would appear on the network to talk about the issues. But the onetime Washington State speech major was intrigued by Trout's delivery, and Trout gave Murrow tips on the way to communicate effectively on the air.
In 1937, Murrow went to London as director of CBS's European operation. His job was to persuade European figures to broadcast over the CBS network, in direct competition with RCA's NBC network (the National Broadcasting Company). In this role, he recruited journalist William L. Shirer to hold a similar post on the Continent. The two would become the progenitors of broadcast journalism.
Murrow gained his first glimpse of fame during the 1938 Anschluss, in which Adolf Hitler's Germany annexed Austria. Then CBS director of operations in Europe, he was still not allowed to broadcast. While Murrow was in Poland arranging a broadcast of children's choruses, he got word from Shirer of the annexation - and the fact that Shirer could not get the story out from Austrian state radio facilities. Murrow sent Shirer to London, where he delivered an uncensored eyewitness account of the Anschluss. Murrow then chartered a plane to fly from Warsaw to Vienna to cover for Shirer.
At the request of CBS New York (most reference books say it was either chief executive William S. Paley or news director Paul White), Murrow and Shirer put together a European News Roundup of reaction to the Anschluss, which brought correspondents from various European cities together for a single broadcast. The March 13, 1938 special, hosted by Bob Trout in New York, included Shirer in London (with Labour MP Ellen Wilkinson), reporter Edgar Ansel Mowrer of the Chicago Daily News in Paris, reporter Pierre J. Huss of International News Service in Berlin, and Senator Lewis B. Schwellenbach in Washington, D.C. Another reporter, Frank Gervasi in Rome, was unable to find a transmitter to broadcast reaction from the Italian capital, but phoned his script to Shirer in London, who read it on the broadcast.
Murrow himself reported live from Vienna, in the first on-the-scene news report of his career: This is Edward Murrow speaking from Vienna...It's now nearly 2:30 in the morning, and Herr Hitler has not yet arrived.
The special, featuring multi-point live reports in the days before modern technology (and without each of the parties necessarily being able to hear each other), came off almost flawlessly. The broadcast was considered revolutionary at the time. The special became the basis for the World News Roundup, which still runs each weekday morning and evening on the CBS Radio Network and is broadcasting's oldest news series.
Murrow and Shirer were also regular participants in CBS's coverage that September of the crisis over the Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia, which Hitler coveted for Germany and eventually won in the Munich agreement. Their coverage only heightened the American appetite for radio news, with listeners waiting regularly for Murrow's shortwave reports as analyst H. V. Kaltenborn in New York would announce, "Calling Ed Murrow; come in Ed Murrow."
Murrow was based in London before the outbreak of World War II, while Shirer's coverage from Berlin brought him national acclaim and a commentator's position with CBS News upon his return in December 1940 (Shirer would describe his Berlin experiences in his best-selling Berlin Diary). When war broke out Murrow stayed in London and provided live radio broadcasts during the height of the London Blitz. Those broadcasts electrified radio audiences as news programming never had before. Previously, war coverage had mostly been provided by newspaper reports and earlier radio news programs simply featured an announcer reading wire-service reports in a studio.
Murrow's reports, especially during the Blitz, began with what became his signature opening, "This is London." Murrow delivered it with his vocal emphasis on the word this, followed by the hint of a pause before the rest of the phrase.
His former speech teacher, Ida Lou Anderson, suggested the opening as a more concise alternative to the one he had inherited from his predecessor at CBS Europe, Cesar Saerchinger: "Hello America. This is London calling." Murrow's phrase became synonymous with the newscaster and his network. (The emphatic this would later become a catch phrase for the network — "This is CBS" — and for imitators, especially James Earl Jones' "This...is CNN", and Amy Goodman's, "This...is Democracy Now.").
Murrow achieved great celebrity as a result of his war reports. They led to his second famous catch phrase. At the end of 1940, with every night's German bombing raid, Londoners who might not necessarily see each other the next morning often closed their conversations not just with "so long," but with "so long, and good luck." The future British monarch, Princess Elizabeth, said as much to the Western world in a live radio address at the end of the year, when she said "good night, and good luck to you all."
So, at the end of one 1940 broadcast, Murrow ended his segment with "Good night, and good luck." Speech teacher Anderson insisted he stick with it, and another Murrow catch phrase was born. This one has most recently been echoed by MSNBC's anchor Keith Olbermann on the nightly news program, Countdown.
When he returned to the U.S. in 1941, his first trip back in three years, CBS hosted a dinner in his honor on December 2 at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. There were eleven hundred guests in attendance with millions more listening via radio. Franklin D. Roosevelt sent a welcome-back telegram, which was read at the dinner, and Librarian of Congress Archibald MacLeish gave an encomium which commented on the power and intimacy of his war-time dispatches:
The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor occurred less than a week after this speech, and the U.S. entered the war as a combatant on the Allied side.
Murrow flew on Allied bombing raids in Europe during the war, providing additional reports from the planes as they droned on over Europe (recorded for delayed broadcast). Murrow's skill at improvising vivid descriptions of what was going on around or below him, derived in part from his college training in speech, aided the effectiveness of his radio broadcasts.
As hostilities expanded, Murrow expanded the CBS news staff. The result was a group of reporters acclaimed for their intellect and descriptive power, including Eric Sevareid, Charles Collingwood, Howard K. Smith, Mary Marvin Breckinridge, Cecil Brown, Richard C. Hottelet, Bill Downs, Winston Burdett, Charles Shaw, Ned Calmer, and Larry LeSueur. Many of them, Shirer included, were later dubbed "Murrow's Boys" â?? despite Breckinridge being a woman.
After the war, Murrow recruited journalists such as Alexander Kendrick, David Schoenbrun, Daniel Schorr and Robert Pierpoint into the circle of the Boys, as a virtual "second generation," though the track record of the original wartime crew set it apart. (Schorr remains active in broadcasting as a commentator/analyst for National Public Radio.)
Murrow's report from the liberation of the Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany provides an example of his uncompromising style of journalism, something that caused a great deal of controversy and won him a number of critics and enemies. He described the exhausted physical state of the concentration camp prisoners who had survived, mentioned "rows of bodies stacked up like cordwood" and he refused to apologize for the harsh tone of his words:
The relationship between Ed Murrow and Bill Shirer ended in 1947, in one of the great confrontations of American broadcast journalism, when Shirer resigned from CBS. The dispute started when J.B. Williams, maker of shaving soap, withdrew its sponsorship of Shirer's Sunday news show. CBS, of which Murrow was then vice president for public affairs, did not find Shirer another sponsor and allowed the show to keep running on a "sustaining" (non-sponsored) basis, which resulted in a loss of income for its moderator.
Shirer contended that the root of his troubles was the network and sponsor not standing by him because of his comments critical of the Truman Doctrine, as well as other comments that were considered outside of the mainstream. Shirer and his supporters felt he was being muzzled because of his views. Meantime, Murrow, and even some of Murrow's Boys, felt that Shirer was coasting on his high reputation and not working hard enough to bolster his analyses with his own research. Murrow and Shirer never regained their close friendship.
The episode hastened Murrow's desire to give up his network vice presidency and return to newscasting, and foreshadowed Murrow's own problems to come with his friend and CBS boss, William S. Paley.
Murrow and Paley had become close when the network chief himself joined the war effort, setting up Allied radio outlets in Italy and North Africa. After the war, he would often go to Paley directly to settle any problems he had. "Ed Murrow was Bill Paley's one genuine friend in CBS", noted Murrow biographer Joseph Persico.
Murrow returned to the air in September 1947, taking over the nightly newscast sponsored by Campbell's Soup and anchored by his old friend and announcing coach Bob Trout. (Trout left for NBC but returned to CBS in 1952.)
In 1950, Murrow narrated a half-hour radio documentary called "The Case for the Flying Saucers." It offered a balanced look at unidentified flying objects, a subject of widespread interest in the early 1950s. Murrow interviewed both Kenneth Arnold (whose 1947 report kickstarted interest in UFOs) and astronomer Dr. Donald Menzel (who argued that UFO reports could be explained as people misidentifying prosaic phenomena). This documentary is available online; see external links below.
Murrow continued to present daily radio news reports on the CBS Radio Network until 1959. He also recorded a series of spoken-word historical albums called I Can Hear It Now, which inaugurated his partnership with producer Fred W. Friendly.
In 1950, the records evolved into the weekly CBS Radio show Hear It Now, hosted by Murrow and co-produced by Murrow and Friendly.
As the 1950s began, Murrow began appearing on CBS Television, in editorial "tailpieces" on the CBS Evening News and coverage of special events. This came despite his own misgivings about the new medium and its emphasis on pictures rather than ideas.
On November 18, 1951, the Hear It Now format Murrow and Friendly pioneered on radio moved to television as See It Now. After the pre-title sequence and introduction, viewers saw and heard host Murrow, with a knowing smile, explain, This is an old team, trying to learn a new trade.
See It Now focused on a number of controversial issues in the 1950s, but it is best remembered as the show that criticized the Red Scare and contributed to the political downfall of Senator Joseph McCarthy.
In 1953, Murrow launched a second weekly TV show â?? a series of celebrity interviews entitled Person to Person. Just as Murrow had nearly single-handedly pioneered TV news journalism, with Person to Person he also set the standard for celebrity interviews, producing a format that is still followed. The Best of Person to Person is currently being distributed under the Koch Vision label.
On March 9, 1954, Murrow, Friendly, and their news team produced a 30-minute See It Now special entitled "A Report on Senator Joseph McCarthy." Murrow used excerpts from McCarthy's own speeches and proclamations to criticize the senator and point out episodes where he had contradicted himself. Murrow knew full well that he was using the medium of television to attack a single man and expose him to nationwide scrutiny, and he was often quoted as having doubts about the method he used for this news report.
Murrow and his See It Now co-producer, Fred Friendly, paid for their own newspaper advertisement for the program; they were not allowed to use CBS' money for the publicity campaign or even use the CBS logo. Nonetheless, this 30-minute TV episode contributed to a nationwide backlash against McCarthy and against the Red Scare in general, and it is seen as a turning point in the history of television.
The broadcast provoked tens of thousands of letters, telegrams and phone calls to CBS headquarters, running 15 to 1 in favor of Murrow. In a Murrow retrospective produced by CBS for the A&E Network series Biography, Friendly noted how truck drivers pulled up to Murrow on the street in subsequent days and shouted "Good show, Ed. Good show, Ed."
Murrow offered McCarthy a chance to comment on the CBS show, and McCarthy provided his own televised response to Murrow three weeks later on See It Now. The senator's rebuttal contributed nearly as much to his own downfall as Murrow or any of McCarthy's other detractors did; Murrow had learned how to use the medium of television, but McCarthy had not.
Murrow's hard-hitting approach to the news, however, cost him influence in the world of television. See It Now occasionally scored high ratings (usually when it was tackling a particularly controversial subject), but in general it did not score well on prime-time television.
When a quiz show phenomenon began and took TV by storm in the mid-1950s, Murrow realized the days of See It Now as a weekly show were numbered. (Biographer Joseph Persico notes that Murrow, watching an early episode of The $64,000 Question air just before his own See It Now, is said to have turned to Friendly and asked how long they expected to keep their time slot).
The weekly version of See It Now ended in 1955, after sponsor Alcoa withdrew its advertising, but the show remained as a series of occasional TV special news reports that defined television documentary news coverage. Despite the prestige, CBS had difficulty finding a regular sponsor, since the program aired intermittently in its new time slot and could not develop a regular audience.
Murrow's reporting brought him into repeated conflicts with CBS and especially Paley, a contretemps that Friendly summarized in his book Due to Circumstances Beyond our Control. See It Now ended in summer 1958 after a clash between Murrow and Paley in Paley's office. Murrow had complained to Paley he could not continue doing the show if the network repeatedly provided (without consulting Murrow) equal time to subjects who felt wronged by the program.
According to Friendly, Murrow asked Paley if he was going to destroy See It Now, into which the CBS chief executive had poured so much. Paley replied that he didn't want a constant stomach ache every time Murrow covered a controversial subject.
See It Now's final broadcast, "Watch on the Ruhr" (about postwar Germany), aired July 7, 1958. Three months later, on October 25, 1958, in a speech before the Radio and Television News Directors Association in Chicago, Murrow blasted TV's emphasis on entertainment and commercialism at the expense of public service.
The harsh tone of the Chicago speech seriously damaged Murrow's friendship with Bill Paley, who felt Murrow was biting the hand that fed him. Before his own death, Friendly said that the RTNDA address did more than the McCarthy show to break the relationship between CBS's chairman and its most-respected journalist.
Beginning in 1958, Murrow hosted a talk show entitled Small World that brought together political figures for one-to-one debates.
After contributing to the first episode of the documentary series CBS Reports, Murrow took a sabbatical from summer 1959 to mid-1960, though he continued to work on CBS Reports and Small World during this period. Friendly, executive producer of CBS Reports, wanted the network to allow Murrow to again be his co-producer after the sabbatical, but he was eventually turned down.
Murrow's last major TV milestone was reporting and narrating the CBS Reports installment "Harvest of Shame", a report on the plight of migrant farm workers in the United States. Directed by Friendly and produced by David Lowe, it ran in November 1960, just after Thanksgiving.
Murrow finally resigned to accept a position as head of the United States Information Agency, parent of the Voice of America, in 1961. President John F. Kennedy offered Murrow the position, which he viewed as "a timely gift". CBS president Frank Stanton had reportedly been offered the job but declined, suggesting that Murrow be offered the job.
On September 16, 1962, Murrow introduced educational television to New York City via the maiden broadcast of WNDT, which became WNET.
Murrow's appointment as head of the United States Information Agency was seen as a vote of confidence in the agency, which provided the official views of the government to the public in other nations. The USIA had been under fire during the McCarthy era, and Murrow brought back at least one of McCarthy's targets, Reed Harris. Murrow insisted on a high level of presidential access, telling Kennedy, "If you want me in on the landings, I'd better be there for the takeoffs." However, the early effects of his cancer kept him from taking an active role in the Bay of Pigs planning. He did advise the president during the Cuban Missile Crisis but was ill at the time the president was assassinated. Asked to stay on by President Lyndon B. Johnson, Murrow did so but resigned in early 1964, citing illness.
Murrow's celebrity gave the agency a higher profile and may have helped it earn more funds from Congress. His transfer to a governmental position did lead to an embarrassing incident shortly after taking the job, when he was compelled to ask the BBC not to show "Harvest of Shame," which had been included in a collection of U.S. network television documentaries made available to other countries by the USIA.
In 1964, Murrow was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
He was made an honorary knight of Great Britain by Queen Elizabeth II on March 5, 1965. (a Knight Commander of the British Empire) and received similar honors from the governments of Belgium, France, and Sweden.
The School for Communications at Washington State University is named in his honor.
Murrow was a heavy smoker all his life, and was rarely seen without a cigarette, smoking around 60 to 70 a day. He developed lung cancer and died at his home in 1965 two days after his 57th birthday. After his cremation, his ashes were scattered on the site of his upstate New York home, Glen Arden Farm. Upon his death, Murrow's colleague and friend Eric Sevareid said of him, "He was a shooting star; we will not see his like again". CBS carried a memorial program, which included a rare on-camera appearance by Paley to honor Murrow.
After Murrow's death in 1965, Edward R. Murrow Center of Public Diplomacy was established at Tufts University's Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. Mr. Murrow's library and papers are housed in the Murrow Memorial Reading Room that also serves as a special seminar classroom and meeting room for Fletcher activities. The Center awards Murrow Fellowships to midcareer professionals who engage in research at Fletcher ranging from the impact of the "new world information order" debate in the international media during the 1970's and 1980's to, currently, telecommunications policies and regulation. Many distinguished journalists, diplomats, and policymakers have spent time at the center, among them David Halberstam, who worked on his Pulitzer-winning book, The Best and the Brightest, as a writer-in-residence in the early 1970s. Veteran Journalist Crocker Snow, Jr. was named Director of the Murrow Center in 2005.
Edward R. Murrow has left a legacy that stands as one of the cornerstones of broadcast journalism. Murrow's status as broadcasting's greatest journalist has not waned in the decades since his death. Colleague Walter Cronkite said in a 1990s retrospective produced by CBS: "He's the head of the parade, he's the pinnacle of the pyramid. He led the way."
In 1971, the RTNDA established the Edward R. Murrow Award, honoring outstanding achievement in the field of electronic journalism.
Image:Murrow 56 emmy.jpg|Murrow won the 1956 Emmy for Best News Commentary.
Image:Murrow This is london.jpg|Murrow, on London's Oxford Circus, c. 1940.
Image:Murrow and truman person 2 person 57.jpg|In 1957 Murrow interviews Harry Truman for Person to Person.
Image:Murrow college.jpg |Murrow's 1930 Washington State College graduation picture.
Image:Murrow election night 56.jpg|Murrow broadcasting election results on Nov. 7, 1956 for CBS.
Image:Murrow fam and kennedy.jpg |Murrow and his son Charles Casey and wife Janet with John F. Kennedy at Murrow's swearing in as USIA director.
Image:Murrow korea interview see it now.jpg|Murrow, in 1953 for See It Now, interviewed U.S. Marines in battle during the Korean War.
Image:See it now with marian anderson.jpg|See It Now went on the road with opera singer Marian Anderson in 1957.
Image:Murrow see it now scriptread.jpg|Murrow reads a script for CBS' See It Now.
Image:Original murrow scrip radio.jpg|An original radio script by Murrow.
Image:Murrow original scripts.jpg|Original radio scripts by Murrow and newspaper clippings about Murrow.
Image:Murrow tacoma narrows.jpg|Murrow, second from left, celebrates the opening of the infamous Tacoma Narrows Bridge on July 1, 1940.
de:Edward R. Murrow
es:Edward R. Murrow
fr:Edward R. Murrow
pl:Edward R. Murrow
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify the biographical information on this page under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation.