Electronic Magazines: Soft News Programs on Network Television

By William C. Spragens | Go to book overview
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Chapter Two
Early Soft News Programs: "60 Minutes"

"Soft news" may be defined as coverage which focuses on individuals, personalities and feature content more than "hard news," which is straight reporting of events.

"Soft news" programs were exhibited on networks as early as the Murrow Person to Person broadcasts. But the entity considered the original program of the modern "soft news" genre is the onehour presentation 60 Minutes," begun by CBS News in 1968.

This chapter examines the development and evolution of the 60 Minutes concept. Don Hewitt was the original producer. Mike Wallace as lead interviewer also developed 60 Minutes." Summaries of Wallace's program development with Night Beat and Mike Wallace Interviews will indicate how Wallace developed the role/ function of the chief interviewer.

Broadcasting literature includes many analyses and memoirs about this network trailblazing hit. One is Wallace's own Close Encounters, originally published in 1984.1 In 1980 Arno Press and CBS News jointly published 60 Minutes Verbatim, based on stories aired during the 1979-80 season. Other program participants besides Wallace have contributed to the literature. Examples of their writings include Harry Reasoner's 1981 publication, Before the Colors Fade, and Morley Safer Flashbacks, an account of his return visit to Vietnam, where he had served as a combat correspondent.2

Dan Rather, who participated in the program in the 1970s, published I Remember, but this volume was not directly related to


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