“There’s No Walter Cronkite Anymore”

Kelli Caseman, Executive Director

I watched a webcast during lunch today—Johns Hopkins University & Medicine’s COVID-19 and the Politics of Information. At one point, a panelist said, “There’s no Walter Cronkite anymore.”

You may be too young to remember Walter Cronkite. He was the anchor of the CBS Evening News for nearly 20 years, retiring in 1981. He symbolized honestly and integrity, at a time when news wasn’t politicized and running 24/7.

This is where we find ourselves during the time of a pandemic. Information about COVID-19 is everywhere, and it’s not all accurate. Some of it’s dangerous. You can’t gargle away the virus, for example. There are no cures. It’s hard to counter misinformation when social media is not aggressively policed, and we have no Walter Cronkites. ­­­­­

Last April, the Pew Research Center reported that only 17 percent of Americans trust the federal government to do what is right. The latest Forbes Under 30 poll states that 35 percent of Americans between 18-29 believe that the COVID-19 crisis is overblown.

Simply put, a significant number of us do not believe or trust what we’re hearing about COVID-19, and we’re not responding to it. This should matter to all of us, because whether we like it or not, our lives are all interconnected. We share the same spaces and touch the same things. If only we shared the same accurate information.

My hope for our country, state, and for Think Kids is that we commit to elevating the voices of medical experts, share important information and data as it changes and evolves, and repeat, repeat, repeat the important messaging that needs disseminated down to every mom, dad and guardian caring for our state’s kids. Our organization is working on this effort now, and I hope soon, West Virginia-specific messaging for the pediatric community will be available for all and updated often.  

And I hope that if you’re reading this, you’ll jump on board with this important effort.