Edward R. Murrow's advice

On the 50th anniversary of his death, 60 Minutes remembers CBS newsman Edward R. Murrow for a line of advice that resonates in today's digital world

Fifty years ago today, the great CBS newsman Edward R. Murrow died. 60 Minutes Overtime remembers Murrow with a little help from another legend: Mike Wallace.

Wallace once delivered an essay on 60 Minutes about Murrow's legacy, quoting Murrow's words of advice -- a kind of admonition, as Mike put it -- for all television journalists:

"The thing you have to remember is that just because your voice carries halfway around the world, you are no wiser than when it carried only to the end of the bar."

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Edward R. Murrow, "See It Now"
CBS

Good advice for us all, perhaps -- particularly in the digital world.

In that essay, Wallace also plays a clip from Murrow's debut broadcast of "See It Now," a news documentary series (which includes a cameo of a young Don Hewitt). At the time, Murrow was already a famous radio reporter, but he was new to the television business. In his opening lines, he notes, "This is an old team trying to learn a new trade."

"Just because your voice carries halfway around the world, you are no wiser than when it carried only to the end of the bar."

Only a decade later, Murrow left the television news business when President Kennedy named him head of the United States Information Agency.

"Ed Murrow's fear when he left television," says Wallace, "was that television wasn't living up to its possibilities as he saw them. He used to marvel at the electronic wonders the scientists had dreamed up, and then despair that we, who program television, news and entertainment, were not sufficiently honoring the tool we had been given in the caliber of our broadcasts."

In 1964 Edward R. Murrow received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor a president can confer on an American citizen. He died at age 57 on April 28, 1965.