27 Years of Influential 60 Minutes


Since 1968 America has been better enlightened than previously
concerning current events and happenings around the world. A considerable
factor for this occurrence is the television program 60 Minutes which debuted
on the air in September of 1968. Many other television newsmagazines have been
produced since its creation, however none have possessed the longevity nor the
influence of 60 Minutes. Infact, 60 Minutes, which is owned by CBS News, was the
first regular network news program to cover actual stories asopposed to topics.
Today, similar newsmagazines can be seen every night of the week on various
stations, all of whichwere sparked by the inception of 60 Minutes. All of the
tabloid television programs being shown today are also a result of 60 Minutes
and its bold, gutsy, "gotcha" style of television journalism. 60 Minutes
changed the way that the American public receives its television news, stemming
forth a whole new format of television broadcast journalism.
60 Minutes has a vast history of stories covered, yet the format has
remained unchanged. Don Hewett, creator and producer of 60 Minutes, has been
the subject of much criticism for his stubbornness. Since its origin, 60
Minutes has continued to adhere to the same formula that made it such a success.
The hidden-camera interviews, the surprising of unsuspecting alleged crooks
with a bombardment of questions, the longevity of the featured reporters, all of
these are what made 60 Minutes a success--finishing in the top 10 Nielson
ratings for 17 consecutive seasons and counting. Other than the fact that it
changed from black-and-white to color with the new technology, the appearance of
60 Minutes has remained consistent. There is no reason to change a thing about
such a prosperous show according to Hewitt. Not only has the format remained
constant but the reporters have as well. Mike Wallace, and Harry Reasoner both
appeared on the first episode of 60 Minutes. Reasoner, who passed away in 1991,
left CBS in 1970 to pursue a news anchoring position at ABC but later returned
to 60 Minutes, in 1978, until his death. Wallace and Morley Safer, who started
in 1970, are still featured reporters as well as Ed Bradley (who joined the team
in 1981) and newcomers Lesley Stahl and Steve Kroft. 60 Minutes would not be
the same without the weekly commentary of Andy Rooney. Rooney started making a
regular appearance in 1978 offering humorous, sometimes controversial
annotations about everyday life. A well known prime time TV news anchor who did
much of his best work at 60 Minutes is Dan Rather. When Rather joined the
other prestigious journalists he had a reputation as a tough, aggressive
reporter; in other words, he fit in perfectly. Rather left in 1981 to takeover
The CBS Evening News, leaving with him a hard-nosed investigator who would do
whatever it took to capture the whole story. All of these factors combined to
form a one-of-a-kind TV newsmagazine with solid ratings; clones were destined
to follow.
Following in the wake of success, many spin-offs were created in an
attempt to grab a piece of the action. There were many reasons for following
the suite of 60 Minutes and not many reasons not to. The biggest incentive (in
the eyes of the other network executives) for striving to reproduce 60 Minutes
was the substantial amount of revenue created by this program.60 Minutes
requires a remarkably less amount of money to produce than a situation comedy
and because the CBS network owns the show, these were earnings that went
straight to the corporation. 60 Minutes has turned out to be quite a goldmine
for CBS because the program has not only brought in the highest profit of any
other show in history, but most of all their other shows combined. It comes as
no surprise that other networks dived into the newsmagazine business. Some of
the more notable programs to cash in on the new format for broadcasting news
include Prime Time Live, 20/20, and Entertainment Tonight. Entertainment
Tonight branched off into a less newsworthy, more Hollywood scene which later
set the pace for PM Magazine, and most recently A Current Affair and Hard Copy.
None of the listed news magazines would exist had it not been for the creation
of 60 Minutes.
The new style of journalism that 60 Minutes incorporated went on to set
a new standard for reporters everywhere. High ratings are the key to success in
the television news business and 60 Minutes gave the viewing public what it
craved--shocking interviews and investigations which led to the uncovering of
crooks, terrorists, and swindlers. Witnessing