Cronkite accepts Scripps award

    Veteran television journalist Walter Cronkite was presented with the second annual William A. Nierenberg Award at a ceremony held last Sunday at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography’s Birch Aquarium. The event included the presentation of a medal and $25,000 to the retired news anchor, as well as “”A Seaside Chat,”” during which Cronkite fielded questions from SIO Director Charles A. Kennel and audience members.

    Tyler Huff
    Guardian

    By bridging the realms of public policy and science through his pioneering environmental reports and contributions to the oceans, Cronkite was chosen for the annual award for his advocacy of science in the public interest.

    “”It is an honor to present the prize dedicated to my father’s interest to our most respected television man, Walter Cronkite,”” said award presenter Nico Nierenberg, who is the son of former SIO director William A. Nierenberg.

    Cronkite has been affiliated with CBS News since 1950, when he anchored the “”CBS Evening News”” until his 1981 retirement. From 1952 to 1981, he covered the national political conventions and elections. Cronkite is particularly remembered for his coverage of the U.S. space program.

    According to Cronkite, he has been passionate about science, the oceans and space exploration since he was young.

    “”I just love sailing,”” he said. “”And I do believe the ocean is a frontier that we should continue to explore without overexploiting it.””

    In pursuing his love of the environment, he hosted CBS’ summer science series, “”Walter Cronkite’s Universe,”” in 1982; co-produced “”Why in the World”” in 1981 for the Public Broadcasting System; and hosted the 1991 series “”Dinosaur”” for Arts and Entertainment Cable Television.

    During the semi-informal chat forum, Kennel asked Cronkite if “”the world can be saved,”” referring to a series of environmental reports he featured on the “”CBS Evening News”” in the 1970s and 1980s. Cronkite replied that the world can be saved, but that enivronmental education must be improved.

    “”It is a massive job to educate the public, and should be started from kindergarten,”” Cronkite said.

    The 85-year-old Cronkite also complimented Scripps for playing a leading role in communicating the importance of ocean science to the global community.

    Cronkite’s first interaction with SIO came in 1982 when he joined the Scripps-led OASIS research cruise on the East Pacific Rise in the Pacific Ocean. The expedition was the first to introduce journalists to newly discovered hydrothermal vents, which Cronkite saw firsthand by journeying nearly two miles to the ocean floor in a submersible vessel. He reported his experiences on his summer science series, “”Universe.””

    John Evey, assistant director of development at SIO, offered praise to Cronkite for his positive impact on the public.

    “”He encouraged a sustainable society, brought up the positive things in society and things that needed to be changed in society,”” he said. “”I think he should be regarded as one of the most impressive persons in the 20th century.””

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