60 Minutes (1968– )
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This show combines investigative journalism, celebrity profiles, and features about interesting organizations and events. When it's a serious subject, you feel like they have fairly and objectively reported the story. Even with lighter topics you get the impression 60 Minutes has captured the essence of the story.
Each segment is about 15 minutes long; we get three in every one-hour show. When the subject is something serious, the viewer has the option of following up in detail on other sources.
Sure, it's a formula, but the 60 Minutes people perfected the formula. No one else on commercial television does such good journalism.
Why has this show consistently placed near the top of the ratings for three decades? Because it's damn good. Why do people tune into 60 Minutes every week, despite the fact that during football season it is often delayed due to long-running games? Because they know that 60 Minutes will deliver.
Jack and Shana's debates in the 70s were a little much to take, and I can't stand Andy Rooney's musings, but the core of the show has remained solid.
60 Minutes reporters asked the hard questions and KEPT asking the hard questions - many times revealing things publicly that we already suspected. It gave us facts, so that we could to draw our own conclusions and DO something about what we were presented.
60 Minutes was a public service. A place to go to to find out what corruption is occurring and what happens while we sleep. It was also a place to see the best interviews with heads of countries we knew nothing about.
Now in 2006, 60 Minutes is still around. A little bruised and battered for a younger generation who feels that news has to have a punch line like a variety show, and that there is no reason to care about what a corporation is doing beyond what Tina Fey jokes about on Saturday Night Live.
60 Minutes is reality programming. Reality journalism and to be honest -as a young person, I had no reason to sit and watch. Reality news journalism is frightening. It was my "parent's" show.
Now that I am older and look back, I was dead wrong and wished I had the sense I have now to pay more attention to 60 Minutes than I did.
The 60 Minutes Producers, Reporters and Researchers over the years put their lives and careers on the line many, many times - even against their own employer - CBS, CBS Corporate, etc, to try to bring us as straight of scoop as allowed - and break as much as they could - so we could all be informed and DO something about it. Bless them all.
And then there is Andy Rooney. Everyone's 'cantancerous' grand-dad. You may not agree with EVERYTHING he says, but when you do, it's time to do something about it.
Now 60 Minutes has reached a turning point, they are at a time when they need to introduce new VETERAN journalists that would have the same heart, drive and ambition as the ones before them - and I hope they do. And there in lies the tale of 60 Minutes. Journalist who are vets in their field, and not high priced entertainment fluff who can read a teleprompter and cry on cue.
I hope that I am wrong that Network Journalism is about the money and not about the story - the dirty, non-glamorous America and World news that lets us know that major corporations are dirt and will bowl over anyone for a buck, that American Farmers need help, that Presidents can't give a good interview and lie, that dictators need to be taken down before their ego gets any larger, that War is Hell, that regular food products can be dangerous, that addition occurs with additives that are secretly placed in places we wouldn't ave thought of, that Small Business is just as Bad as Corporations these days, that racism and sexism still exist, that one little person writing to Congress does not go unnoticed and that Congress and the Senate can abuse kids just like the guy down the street, etc. etc.
The World has NOT stopped turning -- and neither has 60 Minutes. As long as it is around, it keeps folks in check. And keeps other networks scrambling for competition. It's all good, for us.
There was a joke that went around the corporate community for many years. It went something like this:
"I know our company is doing okay because I don't see Mike Wallace or Ed Bradley coming into the building with a camera crew."
However, the show today is tired and boring. There is no gusto. Is it a coincidence that once Lowell Bergman left, the show started to suck? Anyone who saw The Insider knows the story here. 60 Minutes "sold its soul" in the 1990's due to the tobacco scandal. Stock-owning executives from 60 Minutes falsified dangers that 60 Minutes would be the target of billion-dollar lawsuits from tobacco companies that would fell CBS if they aired a controversial public news piece from a former tobacco executive.
A partial result of the fallout was that Lowell Bergman, the main producer of the 60 Minutes tobacco segment, left the show and now works for Frontline, a brilliant PBS documentary news show. Frontline is FAR more interesting and hard-hitting than 60 Minutes has been in years.
Back to 60 Minutes...they seems to "go easy" these days and have one easy to medium news story. They mix that with some other "profile" type story, and throw in a non-threatening interview with some easygoing person. Something a teenager with a camcorder could do (follow around some singer and throw in some good writing).
All very boring for the most part. Too easy, no more edge.
60 Minutes used to the finest show around. Frontline years ago supplanted it as the best investigative journalism show around.
It had hard hitting news and really they cut right to the chase over it. As we see some stories that have not been expose and also hear about the aftermath at times when it is re-ran.
Also they have great reporters like in the late Mike Wallace, Henry Reasoner, Lesley Stahl, Scott Pelley among them. Reporters come and go but not the hard hitting stories.
60 Minutes has always remain the always hard hitting show that it has always been and will!
I bet that when Don Hewitt and CBS created this, none of them ever imagined it would be here, 50 years later, and long ago take away the crown for media excellence that the publication TIME Magazine used to represent.
I remember the Mike Wallace era, fondly. In fact some cable outlets are running "Best of 60 Minutes" series quite successfully. This magazine is more often right than wrong, and never shy's away from controversy. It has covered conflicts across the globe in a way no one else ever did. I remember first hearing about the Shah of Iran on this series before he was overthrown. Without this show, I would not have.
No news source is ever perfect, but this is the best format that does exist. They go out to the people, the locations, and the stories, and report the facts, giving those facts a face, and voice, and their real opinion. That is why this is so successful.
The regular news still too often report the results of Opinion Polls as news. They rely on talking heads who very often do not really know what they are talking about. These 60 Minute Segments are truly reporting facts, not Pew Research. While they can be subject to the agenda of their subjects, their subjects are an expert on what the story is. Polls are simply slanted to get a response not based upon anything except numbers fed into a computer. Humans are the source so it is important to remember, "Garbage In, Garbage Out" when a poll is cited.
I will take the names, faces, and their words over a media opinion or poll anytime. I always question and even ignore any news article or person who cites polls all the time. It might shock people who have not been exposed to this to realize that Pew Research Polls are the main source of material for Rush Limbaugh.
I wish to assert that some of their most important stories aired right after September 11, 2001. An example was an interview with Iraqi politician Tariq Aziz, who affirmed that Saddam Hussein's regime would never harbor Osama bin Laden (unfortunately, the Bush administration got many people to think otherwise). Another example was a look at Kuwait ten years after the Gulf War, and how the US was no longer very popular there. But also, their interviews with Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert were really insightful.
All in all, "60 Minutes" is a news magazine that I recommend. Just as long as you understand their occasional biases.