A number of SJMC students -including myself- enjoyed the presence of Journalist David Blum, author of Tick, Tick, Tick The Long Life & Turbulent Times of 60 Minutes, Wednesday, Mar. 2 at the Wolfe Auditorium. His lecture "Inside 60 Minutes" was part of the Hearst Distinguished Lecture Series 2005.
Blum, in his book, gave a different spectrum of what 60 Minutes is. He talked to almost everyone who have worked for this show, including Don Hewitt, the person who found this show more than 30 years ago. He has also portrayed other important icons of CBS, such as Dan Rather, Mike Wallace, to name a few. He opened his lecture with a witty comment, "If this whole audience would watch '60 Minutes' on Wednesdays, American Idol and Lost will go out of business," he said.
Some of the things he mentioned did not suprise me. We have run into competition, greed, and a toxic environment in our jobs at some point. For instance, Blum said that Diane Sawyer dealt with people who, in the search of being famous or recognized, generated discrepancies that made her leave CBS and chose ABC. No wonder when he was questioned about working for 60 Minutes, Blum said "I would do it if I'm a correspondent. They get paid better."
We all understand that journalism has undergone certain changes in the last three decades. People want to get information as fast as it can be, and thanks to the internet, TV and Radio we can have access to what is going on in the world. Unfortunately, this can be risky -especially when it comes to deliver the news first-. Blum explained that former CBS anchor Dan Rather said he had an enourmous influence in CBS. "If he says OK, Rather's boss would say OK," Blum said.
Blum said that Dan Rather is "biased toward Dan Rather." Other groups may think the same. In a recent article from USA Today last week, it talks about how conservative groups view Rather as a "poster child for liberal network bias." Blum also made clear that Rather could not handle the editing for the George W. Bush story about his special treatment in Vietnam. Blum said he was covering other events like hurricanes.
In the same USA Today article, Harvard media analyst Alex Jones said that "The errors that Dan made were not of moral turpitude but of human fallibility. It shoudn't have happened, but it doesn't diminish his decades-long career of distinguished broadcast journalism."
I agree with Blum when he mentioned that journalism must be dynamic and trustworthy. "60 Minutes," as well as other shows, have strong competition from CNN, Fox News, even blogs. Nonetheless, 60 Minutes success has been always its long-lasting formula: strong, investigative report, even thought the show was almost removed from CBS because of low rating.