Walter Cronkite helped change how news was presented on television, but Don Hewitt shaped how it was produced. Hewitt died Wednesday and journalists and commentators remembered him as the inventor of the first presidential debate on TV (Kennedy-Nixon), the 30-minute newscast, and the original TV newsmagazine, "60 Minutes."
History Maker "He was a man who changed television news," said "60 Minutes" correspondent Steve Kroft "and in the process he affected in some ways some of the great events of the twentieth century by coming up with a broadcast that attracted millions and millions of people." The Washington Post's Howard Kurtz said Hewitt's insight about the show was that "news stories could be packaged like a morality play. The correspondents were the good guys chasing the villains and holding them accountable. Each tale built to a climax, with viewers rooting for their favorites." , Atlantic Online reports.
This is just a slice of time out of the turning world, it says; and in form as well as content, "60 Minutes" stands in elegant relief against the network newsmagazines that followed in its wake, shows whose video-game graphics and summer-blockbuster music cues pummel the viewer into a state of fear or rage even before a word is spoken.
That is not to call it dry, exactly, or uniformly high-minded. It was created, indeed, as a mix of investigative reporting, human interest and pop-culture stories, and Hewitt, who directed the first network TV news broadcast and produced the first televised presidential debate, is himself remembered as being as much of a showman as he was a newsman , Los Angeles Times reports.
"60 Minutes" creator Don Hewitt, 86, who transformed television journalism by showing that news programs could generate money, and who helped make TV an essential part of politics when he produced and directed the first televised debate between U.S. presidential candidates, died Aug. 19 at his home in Bridgehampton, N.Y. He had pancreatic cancer, Washington Post reports.