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TV news giant helped break ground for the Loyola communications program

July 24, 2009

Loyola communications senior Maria Ward presents Cronkite with a plaque commemorating the event, as Fr. James Carter, Francis Doyle and former Mayor Moon Landrieu look on.

Published with permission of Dominic Massa, WWL-TV

A frequent visitor to New Orleans, CBS news giant Walter Cronkite, who died Friday, helped break ground for the Communications/Music Complexat Loyola University New Orleans in 1983.

Cronkite, who retired as anchor and managing editor of the CBS Evening News in 1981, came to New Orleans in February 1983 to break ground for Loyola's new communications building, on the corner of St. Charles Avenue and Calhoun Street. The university also presented Cronkite with an honorary doctor of humane letters.

In his remarks, Cronkite lamented a "communications crisis," which he said schools like Loyola would have to help solve.

Surprisingly, the man being remembered as one of the fathers of modern television news was somewhat critical of its impact on life in the late 20th century. Americans are "over-communicated and under-informed," Cronkite said. Most Americans are getting their news from television and "that isn't quite good enough," he said.

"In the last 40 years, we've plunged into five eras, any one of which would be enough to be an age of man," he said, citing the nuclear age, the space age, the computer age, the petrochemical age and the telecommunications age. "We're facing this technological revolution and we are living through it almost unaware of its impact upon our lives and those of our children."

Cronkite lamented the fact that, in his view, people were not reading, listening or watching enough. He called education the answer. He said that necessary education was two-fold: formal schooling, and the day-to-day education which is "the news, told without fear or favor, in such a manner that the public can understand and act upon those matters which are most important to it."

For the Loyola groundbreaking, Cronkite was joined by the Rev. James Carter, S.J., Ph.D., who was then Loyola University president; Archbishop Philip Hannan; Francis Doyle, chairman of the university board of trustees; and former New Orleans Mayor Moon Landrieu and his wife Verna, who chaired the fundraising drive to build the complex.

(Dominic Massa is a 1998 graduate of the Loyola School of Mass Communication)

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Loyola at a Glance is written and distributed for the faculty, staff, students and friends of Loyola University New Orleans. It is published by the Office of Public Affairs, Greenville Hall, Box 909, 7214 St. Charles Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70118. (504) 861-5888.

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