The profession of journalism has been shaped by many people over the years. Some of the most famous journalists of all time include Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, Christiane Amanpour, Edward Murrow, Tim Russert, Hunter S. Thompson and Walter Cronkite.
A list of the most influential journalists could not be complete without this group of people. Their work is part of what students in the Bachelor of Arts in Journalism degree program as they refine their skills to enter the world of journalism.
Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein
This duo’s reporting in the Watergate scandal brought down a president (Richard Nixon) and gave the public an inside view of the ugly, bare-fisted brawl that is national politics in the United States. They also propelled journalism into a profession that scores of young people wanted to get into, acting as a watchdog against government corruption.
An icon of broadcast journalism, Cronkite won the respect of millions (including fellow and future journalists) for his adherence to the facts and his objective, calm way of delivering the news without hype. He took his role seriously, something that came through during his decades as a broadcaster. He also famously, and in his typically understated way, broadcast the first moon landing.
Hunter S. Thompson
Thompson ranks as the most famous representative of the new journalism movement that also involved the journalist and author Tom Wolfe (“The Bonfire of the Vanities”). Writers in new journalism often put themselves into the center of the action, using their first-person perspective to get at the heart of complicated events. Or, in the case of Thompson, looking at well-known events (a presidential campaign, the Kentucky Derby, a policemen’s convention in Las Vegas) in a new way.
Tim Russert set the gold standard for Sunday morning talk shows that looked at the week’s events and tried to put them into context, especially in the world of politics. At one point, anyone who wanted to amount to anything in Washington needed to appear on Russert’s show. He combined an “everyman” persona with a quick wit and an insightful intellect.
Most consider British journalist Christiane Amanpour as one of the top current broadcast journalists. She is most famous for her work as a war correspondent for CNN, including the Persian Gulf War and the Bosnian War. She currently hosts an interview show on PBS.
Edward R. Murrow
Murrow is considered the trailblazer in broadcast journalism, including his devotion to the truth, integrity in reporting the news and willingness to stand up to government and corporate powers. By shining a light on government waste and abuse, Murrow helped shape both public opinion and public policy.
These famous journalists helped shape the journalism profession and represent some of the best work ever done in the field. For journalism students, they provided a standard they all can aspire to equal.