The Edward R. Murrow Symposium and Edward R. Murrow Award are named for one of the twentieth century's most highly regarded broadcast journalists—a leader, radio and televison pioneer, and WSU graduate whose lofty standards and unflinching spirit of inquiry, courage, and integrity continue to inspire generations of communication professionals.
Murrow graduated from Washington State University in 1930 with a bachelor of arts degree in speech. He served as WSU student body president, president of the National Student Federation, and was a top cadet in the University's ROTC program. He spent two additional years serving as the president of the National Student Federation after graduating. In 1935, he joined the Columbia Broadcasting System as Director of Talks and Education. He became the CBS European director in 1936 and was transferred to London.
When the Nazi Anschluss with Austria took place in 1938, Murrow chartered a plane from his headquarters in London and arrived in Vienna in time to broadcast the German march into the city. From that time, he remained "glued to the mike." In his famed "This is London" broadcasts, he nightly described World War II as he saw and experienced it. Murrow broadcast from the roof of a building during a raid to report an eye witness account of what the British were enduring on at least one occasion.
He is known for taking his audience places they had never been and allowing them to experience things they could never imagine. In 1950, Murrow flew to the Far East to report on the Korean War. He presented weekly digests of news called "Hear It Now" which was based on an earlier project produced by Murrow and Fred Friendly called "I Can Hear It Now." His reports included the news of the day, but also stories of the individuals caught up in the wave of events.
Murrow rose to televison fame in 1951 with the news documentary "See It Now," which he narrated and co-produced with Friendly. This show became popular by taking the public into previously unfilmed areas. The "See It Now" program that focused on Senator Joseph McCarthy is viewed as a turning point in the "Red Scare" and earned Murrow a Peabody Award. In "Person to Person," launched in 1953, Murrow took Americans inside the homes of the great and famous. He also conducted "Small World" and "CBS Reports."
Murrow retired from CBS in 1961 and took control of the U.S. Information Agency. He retired from that position in 1964 due to lung cancer. He died at the age of 57 on April 27, 1965, on his farm in Pawling, New York.
Murrow was a dedicated broadcaster who has inspired millions of people. His dedication to simple, effective communication and his courage and desire to educate the world about the events of his time continue to live on in the spirit of the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University.