Edward R. Murrow

25 Apr 1908
27 Apr 1965
Journalist
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Edward R. Murrow KBE (born Egbert Roscoe Murrow( April 25, 1908 – April 27, 1965) was an American broadcast journalist. He was generally referred to as Ed Murrow. He first came to prominence with a series of radio broadcasts for the news division of the Columbia Broadcasting System during World War II, which were followed by millions of listeners in the United States. During the war he assembled a team of foreign correspondents who came to be known as the Murrow Boys.

A pioneer of television news broadcasting, Murrow produced a series of reports that helped lead to the censure of Senator Joseph McCarthy. Fellow journalists Eric Sevareid, Ed Bliss, Bill Downs, Dan Rather, and Alexander Kendrick consider Murrow one of journalism’s greatest figures, noting his honesty and integrity in delivering the news.

Murrow was born Egbert Roscoe Murrow at Polecat Creek, near Greensboro,in Guilford County, North Carolina, the son of Roscoe Conklin Murrow and Ethel F. When Murrow was six years old, his family moved across the country to Skagit County in western Washington, to homestead near Blanchard, 30 miles (50 km) south of the Canada–US border. He attended high school in nearby Edison.

After graduation from high school in 1926, Murrow enrolled at Washington State College (now Washington State University) across the state in Pullman, and eventually majored in speech.Murrow went by the nickname “Ed” and during his second year of college, he changed his name from Egbert to Edward. In 1929, while attending the annual convention of the National Student Federation of America, Murrow gave a speech urging college students to become more interested in national and world affairs; this led to his election as president of the federation.

Murrow joined CBS as director of talks and education in 1935 and remained with the network for his entire career.[2] CBS did not have news staff when Murrow joined, save for announcer Bob Trout.

Murrow gained his first glimpse of fame during the March 1938 Anschluss, in which Adolf Hitler engineered the annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany. 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 through Austrian state radio facilities.

Murrow’s reports, especially during the Blitz, began with what became his signature opening, “This is London,” delivered 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.

Murrow achieved great celebrity status as a result of his war reports. They led to his second famous catchphrase. 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 with “good night, 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 catchphrase was born.

On April 12, 1945, Murrow and Bill Shadel were the first reporters at the Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany. He met emaciated survivors including Petr Zenkl, children with identification tattoos, and “bodies stacked up like cordwood” in the crematorium. In his report three days later, Murrow said:

I pray you to believe what I have said about Buchenwald. I have reported what I saw and heard, but only part of it. For most of it I have no words…. If I’ve offended you by this rather mild account of Buchenwald, I’m not in the least sorry.— Extract from Murrow’s Buchenwald report. April 15, 1945.

In December 1945 Murrow reluctantly accepted Paley’s offer to become a vice president of the network and head of CBS News, and made his last news report from London in March 1946. His presence and personality shaped the newsroom. After the war, he maintained close friendships with his previous hires, including members of the Murrow Boys. Younger colleagues at CBS became resentful toward this.

On November 18, 1951, Hear It Now moved to television and was re-christened See It Now. In the first episode, Murrow explained: “This is an old team, trying to learn a new trade.”

In 1952, Murrow narrated the political documentary Alliance for Peace, an information vehicle for the newly formed SHAPE detailing the effects of the Marshall Plan upon a war-torn Europe. Written by William Templeton and produced by Samuel Goldwyn, Jr.

In 1953, Murrow launched a second weekly TV show, a series of celebrity interviews entitled Person to Person.

A chain smoker throughout his life, Murrow was almost never seen without his trademark Camel cigarette. It was reported that he smoked between sixty and sixty-five cigarettes a day, equivalent to roughly three packs.See It Now was the first television program to have a report about the connection between smoking and cancer; Murrow said during the show that “I doubt I could spend a half hour without a cigarette with any comfort or ease.” He developed lung cancer and lived for two years after an operation to remove his left lung.

Murrow died at his home on April 27, 1965, two days after his 57th birthday. His colleague and friend Eric Sevareid said of him, “He was a shooting star; and we will live in his afterglow a very long time.” CBS carried a memorial program, which included a rare on-camera appearance by Paley.

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