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