Skip to main content
Select Source:

Edward Roscoe Murrow

Edward Roscoe Murrow

Edward Roscoe Murrow (1908-1965), American radio and television news broadcaster, pioneered in developing journalism and political and social commentary for the mass media.

Edward R. Murrow was born Egbert R. Murrow on Polecat Creek near Greensboro, N.C., on April 25, 1908. The family moved in 1913, and Murrow grew up in Washington state. He worked in logging camps during vacations from Washington State College, changing his first name in the process.

Murrow began his career in international student exchange, but after his marriage to Janet Huntington Brewster he joined the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) in 1935 as director of talks. In 1937 he went to London to arrange speeches and concerts for the American radio network. However, in 1938, he was plunged into news broadcasting when Adolf Hitler annexed Austria to Germany, and he continued to broadcast throughout World War II. The German "blitz" against London in 1940 made Murrow's the best-known American radio voice from overseas, identified by his incisive personal reporting from rooftops and airfields and his social and political probing behind the wartime headlines. After America entered the war, Murrow won renown for his broadcasts describing a bombing raid against Berlin, the liberation of the Buchenwald concentration camp, and the American capture of Leipzig.

Returning to the United States after the war, Murrow inaugurated television journalism-in-depth in 1951 with the weekly program "See It Now." It examined political and social issues and in 1954 challenged the nation's most feared demagogue at that time, Senator Joseph McCarthy. "See It Now" stirred controversy as it explored various national concerns, and Murrow ranged the world to film news and interview political figures. With his good looks and forceful personality, he became a well-known public figure in his own right, especially after starting another television program, "Person to Person," which brought him electronically into the homes of celebrities.

But the widening mass nature of television with its increasing commercialism and costs put the emphasis on entertainment programs that won audience ratings. Murrow's brand of purposeful news broadcasting found less and less time on the air. A notable speech to the broadcasting industry in 1958 appealling for better programs found little response. Murrow left broadcasting in 1961 to become director of the U.S. Information Agency (USIA). He restored the USIA's morale and effectiveness, damaged in the McCarthy years, but found conflict between his role as government propagandist and his independent journalistic past. Ill health compelled his resignation, and he died on April 27, 1965.

Further Reading

A collection of Murrow's wartime broadcasts is his This Is London (1941). A much wider range of his radio and television broadcasts is provided by Edward Bliss, Jr., ed., In Search of Light (1967). Murrow's associate Fred W. Friendly wrote about him in Due to Circumstances beyond Our Control (1967). Alexander Kendrick, Prime Time (1969), is a full biography. □

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Edward Roscoe Murrow." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Edward Roscoe Murrow." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 19, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/edward-roscoe-murrow

"Edward Roscoe Murrow." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Retrieved October 19, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/edward-roscoe-murrow

Murrow, Edward Roscoe

Edward Roscoe Murrow, 1908–65, American news broadcaster, b. Greensboro, N.C. He joined the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) in 1935 and became its European director two years later, assembling and training a news staff to cover the impending war. As a CBS war correspondent (1939–45) Murrow was noted for dramatic and accurate radio broadcasts from London during the Battle of Britain. He served the network as vice president and director of public affairs (1945–47) and news analyst (1947–61), producing and broadcasting the popular television programs Person to Person and See It Now, on which in 1954 he challenged the practices of Sen. Joseph R. McCarthy. Murrow was director of the U.S. Information Agency from 1961 to 1964.

See biographies by A. Kendrick (1969) and A. M. Sperber (1986); studies by S. Cloud and L. Olson (1996), M. Bernstein and A. Lubertozzi (2003), and B. Edwards (2004); The Edward R. Murrow Collection, (VCR, 1991; DVD, 2005).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Murrow, Edward Roscoe." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Murrow, Edward Roscoe." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 19, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/murrow-edward-roscoe

"Murrow, Edward Roscoe." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved October 19, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/murrow-edward-roscoe

Murrow, Ed

Murrow, Ed ( Edward Roscoe) (1908–65) US journalist. He joined the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) in 1935 and during World War II gained fame for his vivid descriptions of the Battle of Britain. After the war he became a CBS vice-president and then a news analyst. Murrow also produced many programmes for television, including the popular See It Now and Person to Person. He was director of the US Information Agency (1961–64).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Murrow, Ed." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Murrow, Ed." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 19, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/murrow-ed

"Murrow, Ed." World Encyclopedia. . Retrieved October 19, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/murrow-ed