Thursday, September 12, 2013

Tar Heel Nation 2: Edward R. Murrow

"If none of us ever read a book that was 'dangerous,' had a friend who was 'different,' or joined an organization that advocated 'change,' we would all be just the kind of people Joe McCarthy wants. (Edward R. Murrow, March 9, 1954). 

For nearly the first two decades of his life, Edward R. Murrow's name was Egbert "Egg" Roscoe Murrow. One can easily understand why he tweaked it for adulthood. 

Murrow's family background included Quakers (Society of Friends), a Cherokee ancestor, anti-slavery ancestors and also a Confederate officer from the Lamb side of the family. Murrow was born in an eighteenth century house on Polecat Creek to the south of Greensboro, North Carolina, off NC Highway 62. 

"The woods to either side abounded in deer, otter, wild turkey, and all kinds of small game. There was a sense of history all around, the old clapboard Center [alt. Centre] Meeting House just a few steps from the property, the windows of the farmhouse looking out on one side toward the cemetery where Andrew Murrow's generation lay buried. . ." (A.M. Sperber, Murrow: His Life and Times. New York: Fordham University Press, 1998, page 11). 

Born in 1908 -- the year of Greensboro's centennial (as Sperber points out) -- in 1913 Murrow migrated by train with his family to Washington State. But memories of North Carolina stuck with him, as did the family legacy.  
Edward R. Murrow seated on an airplane, 1957 (See below for credit).
As an adult reporter and journalist, Edward R. Murrow relocated to Europe in the late 1930s. He covered the London Blitz and other events and facets of the Second World War. When Murrow reached Germany with American troops near the end of it, he described what they found at Buchenwald concentration camp. He then ended his report sharply: "If I've offended you by this rather mild account of Buchenwald, I'm not in the least sorry." (April 15, 1945 radio broadcast from Konzentrationslager Buchenwald).

Murrow moved into TV broadcasting, too, where he was instrumental as a defender of democracy and civil society during the period of McCarthyism and anti-communist "witch hunts" in the 1950s. He continued hard at it until his death in 1965. One of the great journalists and reporters.  

Photo: Edward R. Murrow seated on an airplane, 1957. Edward R. Murrow Papers, 1927-1965. Tufts University. Digital Collections and Archives. Medford, MA. Accessed September 12, 2013. Link here.

Today's Rune: Partnership.  


Anonymous said... uncle was Murrow's anchor man...Charles Shaw. Charles was my dad's sister's husband. He was the first American to interview Fidel Castro. - Josephine Shaffer

the walking man said...

So where did the ethics of journalism go? When did they come up on the open market?

Charles Gramlich said...

I'm glad I've got a few friends who are dangerous.