The 60 MINUTES team, from left: co-editor Morely Safer, co-editor Ed Bradley, executive producer Don Hewitt, co-editor Steve Kroft, co-editor Mike Wallace, co-editor Lesley Stahl, and correspondent Andy Rooney.

by Steve Rogers

New York: The National Television Academy will present this year’s Lifetime Achievement Awards for News & Documentary to the producer and past and present anchors of the venerable CBS news magazine 60 Minutes. The award will be presented at the 24th Annual News and Documentary Emmy Awards to be held on Wednesday, September 3, 2003 in New York City.

“60 Minutes and its anchors,” Academy President Peter Price said, “have always represented, to both viewers and professionals, the highest level of television journalism.” The award will mark another milestone for the program: 60 Minutes will celebrate its 35th Anniversary in September 2003. “60 Minutes remains one of the best watched programs of its kind,” said Price “and still sets the standard for indepth
television reporting.”

A lifetime achievement award ordinarily recognizes the extraordinary efforts of an individual, but this year’s award honors the exceptional many who have contributed parts of their lives to the life of the whole. “The award will go to those who made a success of the 60 Minutes program,” Price said. “Individual awards will be presented to all the producers andcorrespondents who have made the show a success.”

In an ever-evolving industry, where consistency is elusive, 60 Minutes has shown rare staying power. The program has finished in the Nielsen top ten highestrated programs list for twenty two consecutive seasons and is the only broadcast in history to finish first in three different decades. According to Nielsen, sixteen million people tune in each Sunday night, like clockwork. In addition to record-breaking ratings, 60 Minutes holds the distinction of winning seventy-three Emmy Awards,more than any news program ever. The show has also won nine Peabody Awards for exceptional television broadcasting, as well as virtually every othe major broadcast journalism award.

Don Hewitt, the long-time executive producer and creator of the show, will be honored at the start of a fall season of broadcasting. In June 2004, for the first time in over thirty-five years, he will no longer be responsible for starting and stopping the watch. Hewitt recently announced that he will be stepping down as executive producer of 60 Minutes to assume the role of executive producer in charge of developing new projects. He will also be offering advice to his successor, Jeff Fager, currently executive producer of 60 Minutes II.

With CBS News for more than fifty years, Hewitt greatly influenced television journalism and helped develop many of its methods for reporting news. His pioneering work in producing and directing many of the broadcasts of the world’s major news events during television’s infancy established a blueprint that news producers still rely on today.

When presenting Hewitt with the Founders Emmy by the International Council of the National Television
Academy,ABC News President, and last year’s Lifetime Achievement Award honoree, Roone Arledge, said “His real monument is 60 Minutes. I still believe Don deserves the credit for it [the idea of the news magazine format]; it is an innovative format no one had done before. It’s been copied all over the world, including several times by us. He is truly an innovator… He’s been a leader in our industry. He has inspired all sorts of people.”

Also being honored is 60 Minutes’ co-editor and correspondent, Mike Wallace. The veteran journalist arrived at 60 Minutes with a long list of broadcast achievements, and has been with the show since it’s first broadcast on September 24, 1968. Wallace, best known for his tenacious interviewing style has, over the last thirty-five years, chatted with a veritable who’s who of newsmakers. From Kennedy to Bush to Baryshnikov and Bernstein, Mike Wallace’s interviews have followed the historical timeline of our lives. He is the winner of an impressive nineteen Emmy Awards.

Other correspondents being honored include Morley Safer, who joined 60 Minutes in its third season. Prior to joining 60 Minutes, Safer distinguished himself with his Vietnam War coverage. Many considered him the most outstanding broadcast journalist to have coveredthat war.

Safer’s thoughtful and penetrating reports, have won him eleven Emmy awards. He recently received the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award for his insightful report about a controversial school, School for the Homeless. When citing 60 Minutes’ finest hour, Don Hewitt, often points to Safer’s investigative report Lenell Geter’s in Jail.
The report highlighted new evidence that resulted in the release from prison of Lenell Geter, an engineer wrongly convicted of armed robbery and sentenced to a life term in Texas.

Ed Bradley in his 22nd year at 60 Minutes will likewise share in the acknowledgments. Bradley has won fifteen Emmy awards, including one for his exclusive interview with Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. His work on the show has covered a wide range of topics, from profiles of killers and divas to a disturbing look inside Chinese forced labor camps and sensitive military installations in Russia and the U.S. Bradley covered the war in Vietnam and was a CBS News Washington correspondent prior to joining 60
Minutes.

Steve Kroft delivered his first report for 60 Minutes in September 1989. Since then Kroft has carved out an impressive place for himself among the elders giants of the 60 Minutes pantheon. He’s won seven Emmy awards and numerous other broadcast journalism awards for reports on subjects ranging from political instability around the world to the environmental instability in our own nation’s ground water. His exclusive 1992 interview with then-Governor Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary ended up on the front page of virtually every newspaper in the country. It is
continually cited as one of the defining moments of that presidential election.

60 Minutes is one of few shows where, eleven years into the work, you’re still the junior member of the team. Lesley Stahl, the “newest” correspondent and co-editor on the program, has also garnered countless awards for her interviewing and reporting. She has a collection of Emmys for her interviews on Face the Nation and 60 Minutes, including honors for her reports about former FDA Commissioner David Kessler’s battle with tobacco industry and another about the plight of Iraqi citizens, mostly children, suffering the effects of the United Nations sanctions. She joined CBS News in Washington before her stay at 60 Minutes and was often cited for persistent and professional coverage there, especially during the Watergate years.

Bob Simon was named a 60 Minutes II correspondent in November 1998. He has covered virtually every major foreign news story in the last three decades and has accumulated scores of major awards along the way. He continues to serve as a regular contributor to 60 Minutes, a position he has held since 1996. Considered by many to be one of broadcast journalism’s best foreign correspondents,he is also admired by his peers for his writing. During the first Gulf War Simon’s determined and aggressive coverage took him across enemy lines where he was captured and spent time in an Iraqi jail.

Christiane Amanpour is CNN’s chief international correspondent and a regular 60 Minutes contributor. Recently, Amanpour was named a Fellow of the Society of Professional Journalists, an honor recognizing significant contributions to journalism. She is best remembered for her coverage of the fall of communism in Eastern Europe in 1989-1990, and for her coverage of the Gulf War. She continues to report on armed conflicts and civil unrest.

The final member of the current cast to be honored is, of course, Andy Rooney. Described by Time magazine as “the most felicitous nonfiction writer in television,” Rooney has been holding a mirror to himself, and all of us, for the last 25 years. His quirky, award winning television essays point out the importance of things seemingly
unimportant or unsaid.

Harry Reasoner, one of the original 60 Minutes correspondents, will be recognized posthumously. Reasoner, the life-long journalist, known for his wry wit, retired from the program in May of 1991, and passed away the following August.

In addition to the extraordinary work of the current co-editors and correspondents, the a war will also honor past contributors, all of whom have gone on to illustrious careers.

Dan Rather has been with CBS News for thirtyfive years and worked as co-editor and correspondent for 60 Minutes from 1975 to 1981. Often referred to as “the hardest-working man in broadcast journalism,”
Rather is currently the anchor of the CBS Evening News and a correspondentfor 60 Minutes II.

Prior to joining ABC News, Diane Sawyer spent nine years at CBS. She was the first woman to co-anchor 60 Minutes. Prior to that, she co-anchored the CBS Morning News and was CBS News' State Department correspondent. In addition to winning numerous Emmy Awards, Sawyer has won Dupont Robert F. Kennedy awards for journalism as well. She is currently co-anchor of ABC’s Good Morning America and Primetime Thursday.

Rounding out the list of honorees, Meredith Vieira has been a co-host of ABC’s The View since August 1997. Previously she had spent more than a decade at CBS News where she garnered numerous Emmy Awards for her work as a correspondent. She has reported on such award-winning stories as “Ward 5A,” which focused on the first AIDS ward in San Francisco and “Thy Brother’s Keeper,” a story on Christians who saved Jews during the Holocaust.

As part of the Lifetime Achievement Award, the National Television Academy will host a panel discussion on the afternoon September 3, 2003 at Fordham University with present correspondents discussing thirty-five years of 60 Minutes. A luncheon for the honorees and industry VIPs will follow the panel.


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