Someone watching NBC’s “Nightly News with Lester Holt”

Someone watching NBC's "Nightly News with Lester Holt" (Photo by Lutsenko_Oleksandr on Shutterstock)

News anchors, presenters, and broadcasters are all words to describe the people that keep us updated on the world around us. For most, they are the first faces we see on television in the morning. They are the people in charge of delivering all the good, bad, and ugly the world has to offer. The job is no easy task, but since the creation of television, there have been people accepting that responsibility, and today, we are going to talk about the best TV news anchors of all time.

In 1948 when CBS chose Douglas Edwards to present a televised news program every weeknight, it birthed the role of a newscaster. He would also host the televised coverage of the Republican and Democratic national conventions of the same year. This started a whole new medium for television, which was relatively new, having only been invented some 20 years prior. Broadcasting the news on TV was now a job that would evolve over the years, with many different people taking the title and making it their own. However, it wouldn’t be till three years later that the official term news “anchor” would be created. 

In 1952, the CBS news chief at the time, Sig Mickelson, used the term “anchor” to describe Walter Cronkite’s work covering the political convention. Deriving from the term “anchor leg” in relay races, Cronkite would coordinate switches between news points and reporters donning him an “anchorman.” Since then, presenters and journalists have taken on the term and defined it as their own.

That leads us to ask about the greatest presenters news channels have offered us through the years. Luckily, we at StudyFinds have researched numerous sources to bring you the top five best TV news anchors of all time. As always, if you don’t agree with our list, we would love to hear from you in the comments below. Now, onto the list!

A female journalist reporting on the scene
A female journalist reporting (Photo by cottonbro studio on Pexels)

The List: Best TV News Anchors, Per Experts

1. Walter Cronkite

Serving as a news anchor for 44 years, Cronkite’s effect on not just the world of news but pop culture in general, knows no bounds. “A reporter who became the best known and perhaps most respected American television journalist of his time as the anchor of the CBS Evening News from 1962 to 1981,” explains NYU Journalism.

“Referred to as the ‘most trusted man in America,’ Walter Cronkite was the former anchor and managing editor of the show CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite. A correspondent for United Press during World War II, he famously covered the Nuremberg trials in Germany. After joining CBS, he reported on the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the battles over civil rights, the Vietnam War, the Apollo moon landings, the death of Beatles musician John Lennon and the Watergate scandal. Considered a pioneer in broadcast journalism, he was famous for his catchphrase, ‘And that’s the way it is,’ at the end of every bulletin,” adds Gulf Business.

“The only non-NASA honoree of the prestigious Ambassador of Exploration Award, Walter Cronkite, reported several important events, such as Project Mercury and bombings in World War II. He is the recipient of many awards, including four Peabody Awards,” says TFP. Being the person who has to report the world news to America is no easy feat, but Walter Cronkite came out through the toughest of times being one of the best among Americans. 

2. David Brinkley

With a career lasting from 1943 to 1997, “David Brinkley was an American newscaster for NBC and ABC. Over the course of his career, Brinkley received ten Emmy Awards, three George Foster Peabody Awards, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom and wrote three books, including the 1988 bestseller ‘Washington Goes to War,’ about how World War II transformed the nation’s capital. This social history was largely based on his own observations as a young reporter in the city,” explains Ranker.

PastParallelPaths goes on to note Brinkley as their “favorite, and it’s not even close. When he moved to ABC to do his Sunday weekend show, it was required viewing. I looked forward to his closing commentaries every Sunday and just knew he was about to say something in those few minutes at the end of the show that would make me think, make me laugh or both.”

Brinkley started his anchoring career working alongside Chet Huntley on NBC’s nightly news show, “The Huntley-Brinkley Report,” from 1956 to 1970. “From then, he co-anchored or provided commentary on the program’s successor, NBC Nightly News, during the 1970s. Brinkley served as the anchor of the well-liked ‘Sunday This Week with David Brinkley’ show and a prominent contributor for ABC News’ coverage of election night in the 1980s and 1990s,” notes HoodMWR.

3. Edward R. Murrow

“Edward Roscoe Murrow first gained prominence during World War II with a series of live radio broadcasts from Europe for the news division of CBS. During the war, he recruited and worked closely with a team of war correspondents who came to be known as the Murrow Boys,” explains Ranker.

“A pioneer of radio and television news reporting, Murrow produced a number of broadcasts for his television program ‘See It Now’ that contributed to Senator Joseph McCarthy’s being condemned,” notes HoodMWR. “Distinguished journalists Eric Sevareid, Ed Bliss, Bill Downs, Dan Rather, and Alexander Kendrick see Edward R. Murrow as one of the most influential personalities in journalism,” no doubt contributed by his honesty and strength when delivering challenging topics to the world.

“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,” says Point Park University. Working at CBS for his entire 30 years as a broadcast journalist, Murrow proved himself as a giant in news media, making the top five almost six decades after his death. 

4. Peter Jennings

Peter Jennings was a Canadian-American journalist who served as the sole anchor of ABC World News Tonight from 1983 until his death from lung cancer in 2005. Starting his career early, hosting a Canadian radio show at age 9; in 1965, ABC News tapped him to anchor its flagship evening news program. Critics and others in the television news business attacked his inexperience, making his job difficult. He became a foreign correspondent in 1968, reporting from the Middle East. Jennings returned as one of World News Tonight’s three anchormen in 1978, and he was promoted to sole anchorman in 1983,” says Ranker

“Despite dropping out of high school, he managed to become one of the most well-known journalists on American television. Along with Tom Brokaw of NBC and Dan Rather of CBS, Jennings was one of the ‘Big Three’ news anchormen who dominated American evening network news from the early 1980s until his death in 2005,” explains HoodMWR.

“Throughout his career, which lasted for 58 years, Peter Jennings won several awards, including 16 Emmy Awards, and the ‘Washington Journalism Review’ named him the Best Anchor on four different occasions,” adds TFP. Jennings had nothing short of a long and illustrious career in American journalism, a topic that fascinated him, and he would finally become a U.S. citizen in 2003. 

5. Lester Holt

For the final pick of the list, we have made it to the modern day, with a man whose 40-year career remains strong to this day: “Lester Holt is an American broadcast journalist who served as anchor of NBC Nightly News and Dateline NBC. He was the first Black person to solo anchor a weekday network nightly newscast and has been with the NBC news network since 2000 and prior to that was with CBS News for 19 years,” notes New York Film Academy.

“When it comes to the best news journalists, Lester Holt continues to be one of the most recognized names in the industry. Having been the permanent news anchor on NBC Nightly News since 2015, he regularly covers some of the most hard-hitting stories in the world. With an illustrious career spanning several decades, he has covered some of the most iconic moments in global history,” writes Prowly.

“Holt took over the role of lead anchor for NBC Nightly News after Brian Williams left the spot open, and since then, he has been steadily rising in the ranks as one of NBC’s biggest stars. Holt’s style of delivering the news without opinion means that he stands out among the rest, as more and more anchors have begun to cross the line from news into commentary,” adds Relatively Interesting. “‘Trust is at the heart of what we do,’ Holt told The Hollywood Reporter,” after being named the most trustworthy news anchor on TV. ‘To me, there is no higher honor than to have earned that trust.'”

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About Jilly Hite

Janelle is a freelance writer from New York. Her writing focuses on parenting, tech, business, interior design, education, and telling people’s inspiring stories. Janelle has written for Mustela and Newton Baby and has bylines in Pregnant Chicken, Syracuse Woman Magazine, the Baldwinsville Messenger, and Family Times Magazine. She holds a master’s degree in literacy from the State University of New York at Oswego.

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