That age, of course, also multiplies the sheer volume of news produced every day and splinters the audience available for it, transforming the evening newscast—Cronkite’s medium and in many ways his invention—into a living relic. Still, what this weekend’s nostalgia has proved is that Cronkite’s audience was large not merely because it was captive. We responded not merely to “the news,” but to Cronkite himself as its deliverer—to his seriousness, to his integrity, to his unabashed love of the world and the human events that shape it. To a mixture, in short, that left no room for irony. Forty years ago, Cronkite watched, with us, as men landed on the moon. And the jumble of his joy—awed, humbled, and appropriately inarticulate—spoke for itself.

Megan Garber is an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University. She was formerly a CJR staff writer.