Journalism

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. In
fact, 60 Minutes, which is owned by CBS News, was the first
regular network news program to cover actual stories as
opposed to topics. Today, similar newsmagazines can be seen
every night of the week on various stations, all of which
were 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
newsmagazines 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 doors being slammed
in a reporter\'s face became customary to the show. Before
1968 the nightly news would