Murrow Boys

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Edward R. Murrow in 1947

The Murrow Boys, or Murrow's Boys, were the CBS broadcast journalists most closely associated with Edward R. Murrow during his time at the network, most notably in the years before and during World War II.

Murrow recruited a number of newsmen and women to CBS during his years as a correspondent, European news chief, and executive. The "Boys" were his closest professional and personal associates. They also shared Murrow's preference for incisive, thought-provoking coverage of public affairs, abroad and at home. They achieved nationwide fame, and inadvertently became early examples of "celebrity journalism" in the days of radio and early television news.[1]

The original "Boys"[edit]

The individuals most often cited as Murrow Boys are those who worked for and with him covering the war for the CBS Radio Network. Many of his World War II recruits came from the United Press news agency, and several lacked radio experience.[2] Their story is the subject of the 1996 book The Murrow Boys, by Stanley Cloud and Lynne Olson.

The nickname's origins are unclear. Cloud and Olson interviewed Janet Murrow and set out to determine who exactly fell under the definition of a "Murrow Boy." They primarily included those hired by or associated with Murrow during World War II, with some exceptions.[3]

The initial team of war correspondents was assigned to fronts across Europe, and frequently appeared on the CBS World News Roundup, which Murrow and Shirer pioneered in 1938. The original Boys, and some of their notable CBS beats during the war, included:[4]

Several Murrow Boys were assigned to accompany Allied forces on D-Day. Hottelet rode along in a bomber over Utah Beach at H-Hour, the initial phase of the invasion. Collingwood and Gene Ryder covered Utah Beach, as did Larry LeSueur from a separate landing craft, while Downs covered Gold Beach. All three had difficulty finding working mobile transmitters, and no correspondents of any network were able to report live from the Normandy front until over a week after the initial landings.[16][17]

Of the original Boys, Hottelet had the longest career at CBS, joining the network in 1944 remaining there until 1985. He was the last surviving member of the original group.[18]

The group maintained close ties with Murrow but not necessarily each other. They had significant autonomy in filing reports, and while they had been influential in developing the field of radio news broadcasting, they were reluctant to make the transition to television. The Murrow Boys earned far more working in radio than they could in television, and they resented the process of lights, cameras, makeup, and other aspects of TV broadcasting. By the 1950s their dominating presence in the field had begun to decline.[19]

Despite this, many in the core group stayed with CBS throughout the 1950s. During the McCarthy era, Howard K. Smith, William L. Shirer, and Alexander Kendrick were among those named in the Red Channels.[20]

Other Murrow associates in Europe[edit]

Several other CBS journalists worked for and with Murrow during the crisis years in Europe, though they are not mentioned as being in the circle of Boys. They include Bill Shadel, Charles Shaw, Douglas Edwards, John Charles Daly, Paul Manning, George Moorad, and Betty Wason. Also included is Edwin Hartrich, who worked under Bill Shirer in Berlin and broadcast daily on CBS through most of 1940; and Ned Calmer, who joined the CBS team in 1940 after working for the European editions of the Chicago Tribune and the New York Herald.[21]

Second generation "Boys"[edit]

After World War II, Murrow returned to New York and briefly served as CBS's vice president for public affairs. He maintained close friendships with the correspondents he hired during the war, and spent much of his free time with them. Younger colleagues who Murrow had not played a role in hiring began to feel like outsiders and viewed his relationship with the Murrow Boys preferential treatment. They formed the "Murrow Isn't God Club," which soon disbanded after Murrow asked if he could join.[22][23]

Murrow recruited several promising journalists in the mold of the original Boys, some of whom became close enough to Murrow that they are seen as a second generation. They include:[3]

Schorr stayed with CBS News until 1976. He later joined CNN, and was a senior news analyst for National Public Radio, often delivering commentaries in the Murrow mold, until his death on July 23, 2010.[25]

Kalb, the last journalist recruited by Murrow to CBS, was joined by his brother Bernard at the network in the 1960s and 70s. The Kalbs later moved on to NBC. Marvin Kalb is now a Fox News contributor and is now a Washington-based senior fellow for Harvard University.

Many journalists, including some at CBS, include these "postwar" associates in the group of Boys, though authors Cloud and Olson limited their own list to the World War II crew.[3]

Other colleagues[edit]

Though they are not considered Murrow’s Boys, several other notable journalists worked closely with Murrow during his years at CBS, They include:

  • Robert Trout, legendary correspondent who preceded Murrow at CBS and coached Murrow in radio broadcasting.
  • Fred W. Friendly, co-producer with Murrow of radio's Hear It Now and TV's See It Now.
  • Palmer Williams, Murrow and Friendly’s operations director on See It Now.
  • Joseph Wershba, a reporter who worked with Murrow on Hear It Now and See It Now.
  • Don Hewitt, the director of See It Now in its early years, who borrowed from the format to create 60 Minutes.
  • Edward P. Morgan, who produced Murrow’s CBS Radio show This I Believe in the 1950s. The program presented people’s personal philosophies on morality and faith.
  • Raymond Gram Swing, a radio commentator who worked closely with Murrow to foster understanding between the British and Americans during the war years. He later took over production of This I Believe from Morgan.
  • Betty Wason, radio commentator in Europe 1940-42 and a stringer for CBS.[4]
  • Marguerite Higgins, who worked alongside Murrow, Pierpoint, and Downs during the Korean War.
  • Walter Cronkite, whom Murrow approached in 1943 to join the team and relieve Bill Downs as the CBS Moscow correspondent. Cronkite ultimately turned the offer down when his employer, United Press, countered with a large pay increase.[26] He went on to join CBS in 1950.

Friendly went on to become CBS News president and later taught at Columbia University, where he introduced the Murrow standards to generations of young journalists. Hewitt worked closely with Williams and Wershba during the early years of 60 Minutes.


  1. ^ Cloud, Stanley; Olson, Lynne (March 1996). "Modern Celebrity Journalism is Born". The American Enterprise: 32–33. Retrieved 9 January 2017.
  2. ^ Edwards, Bob (2004). Edward R. Murrow and the Birth of Broadcast Journalism. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 1118039998.
  3. ^ a b c Cloud, Stanley and Lynne Olson (1996). "Authors' Note". The Murrow Boys: Pioneers on the Front Lines of Broadcast Journalism. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company. pp. ix–x.
  4. ^ a b c The Murrow Boys", The Life and Work of Edward R. Murrow, an archive exhibit, Digital Collections and Archives, The Murrow Center, Tufts University, 2008, accessed January 7, 2017.
  5. ^ Mitgang, Herbert (29 December 1993). "William L. Shirer, Author, Is Dead at 89". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 February 2018.
  6. ^ Mitgang, Herbert (10 July 1992). "Eric Sevareid, 79, Is Dead; Commentator and Reporter". Retrieved 26 February 2018.
  7. ^ Woo, Elaine (7 February 2003). "Larry LeSueur, 93; Former CBS Radio Reporter Covered WWII". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 26 February 2018.
  8. ^ Toner, Robin (4 October 1985). "Charles Collingwood Is Dead; CBS Correspondent Was 68". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 February 2018.
  9. ^ Goldstein, Richard (18 February 2002). "Howard K. Smith, Broadcast Newsman, Dies at 87". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 February 2018.
  10. ^ Pace, Eric (21 May 1993). "Winston Burdett Is Dead at 79; Covered World and War for CBS". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 February 2018.
  11. ^ "Bill Downs, Reporter for ABC, Ex-War Correspondent, Dies". The Washington Post. 4 May 1978. Retrieved 26 February 2018.
  12. ^ "Women Come to the Front: Marvin Breckinridge Patterson". The Library of Congress. Retrieved 26 February 2018.
  13. ^ Saxon, Wolfgang (23 December 2002). "Mary Patterson, Philanthropist And Wartime Broadcaster, 97". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 February 2018.
  14. ^ Hudson, Edward (28 October 1987). "Cecil Brown Is Dead; A News Broadcaster And Correspondent". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 February 2018.
  15. ^ McLellan, Dennis (17 December 2014). "Richard C. Hottelet dies at 97; last of CBS News' 'Murrow Boys'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 26 February 2018.
  16. ^ Edwards, Bob (2010). Edward R. Murrow and the Birth of Broadcast Journalism. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 1118039998.
  17. ^ "Back to Normal Operations; Invasion Coverage Widened". Broadcasting (Vol. 26). 19 June 1944. p. 16. Retrieved 9 June 2014.
  18. ^ Goldstein, Richard (17 December 2014). "Richard C. Hottelet, CBS Newsman and Last of 'Murrow Boys,' Dies at 97". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 January 2017.
  19. ^ Cox, Jim (2002). Say Goodnight, Gracie: The Last Years of Network Radio. McFarland. pp. 49–50. ISBN 0786462396.
  20. ^ Bernhard, Nancy (16 October 2003). U.S. Television News and Cold War Propaganda, 1947-1960. Cambridge University Press. p. 56. ISBN 052154324X.
  21. ^ "Ned Calmer, a Writer And Ex-News Analyst". The New York Times. 11 March 1986. Retrieved 26 February 2018.
  22. ^ Cuthbertson, Keith (1 May 2015). Books on Google Play A Complex Fate: William L. Shirer and the American Century. McGill-Queen's University Press. ISBN 0773597247.
  23. ^ Wertenbaker, Charles (26 December 1953). "The World On His Back". The New Yorker.
  24. ^ "Alexander Kendrick, CBS Correspondent, 80". The New York Times. 20 May 1991. Retrieved 26 February 2018.
  25. ^ Hershey Jr., Robert D. (23 July 2010). "Daniel Schorr, Journalist, Dies at 93". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 January 2017.
  26. ^ Gay, Timothy M (2013). Assignment to Hell: The War Against Nazi Germany with Correspondents Walter Cronkite, Andy Rooney, A.J. Liebling, Homer Bigart, and Hal Boyle. NAL Caliber Trade. ISBN 0451417151.