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Who invented original reporting on television?

Posted by: | September 27, 2011 | No Comment |

What is original reporting?

Jim Romenesko called attention to this CBS News promo that was released in August, claiming the network invented original reporting on television. The promo states:

“What is original reporting? It’s finding your own facts, seeing them first hand; telling the story no one else will — or can.

It’s not just reporting what others are reporting. It’s substance over showmanship. It’s what we do at CBS News every Sunday, and every day of the week. But hey, it’s not like we invented original reporting on television. [Cut to a black-and-white image of an old "60 Minutes" set] Oh wait; yes we did.

The dramatic collection of clips depicting the chronology of broadcast journalism at CBS provided a sense of its rich history. The sarcastic statement suggesting CBS did not invent original reporting, followed by a pause and a pompous “Oh wait; yes we did,” heightens the drama of the message. But, is it true?

"What's My Line?" television show, 1956

David Shedden discusses the history of original reporting, saying:

“Here’s what I think: No one person or network invented original TV reporting. TV news had been slowly evolving since the late 1930s.

Although radio networks had been in existence since the 1920s, large TV networks really didn’t start until 1948 when coaxial cable began connecting major TV markets.”

Shedden goes on to further discuss NBC’s efforts in pioneering original reporting on television, also pointing out that the first regularly scheduled evening network TV news broadcasts began in 1948.

“On February 16, 1948, NBC News began broadcasting ‘NBC Television Newsreel,’ the first regularly scheduled evening network TV news program. In 1949 the program became the “Camel News Caravan” with John Cameron Swayze.”

Regardless of whether one network can be attributed to the invention of original television reporting, it is safe to say that numerous networks and reporters alike helped pioneer this now-common form of news reporting.

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under: Comm 455
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