Electronic Magazines: Soft News Programs on Network Television

By William C. Spragens | Go to book overview
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Chapter Five
Beginnings and Development of the "48 Hours" Series

The CBS News division, seeking to build on the success of 60 Minutes," during the 1980s introduced the weekly program (except for special event cancellations) entitled 48 Hours with Dan Rather in the moderator's role which Mike Wallace so successfully handled in the development of 60 Minutes."

Rather served as moderator in addition to his role (begun in 1981) as CBS Evening News anchor (a position he began to share with Connie Chung in 1993).

In January 1988 the 48 Hours program began its successful run. An early program--Program No. 5, in fact--dealt with the presidential campaign. Entitled In the Campaign," it covered events in the New Hampshire primary campaign using the "soft news" approach.

Participants in the early presentations of 48 Hours included Dan Rather (moderator), Lesley Stahl, Bill Plante, Bruce Morton and Bob Faw. All have had considerable experience with CBS News, unlike some of the participants in West 57th," another show which was experimented with and later dropped from the schedule after a couple of years with some degree of success. The latter show was aimed at younger viewers; the 48 Hours audience demographics seemed to indicate it was aimed at the broader general public.

Dan Rather introduced the program with a discussion of the relative standings of the 1988 presidential candidates. On the

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