Wednesday, August 19, 2009

And Now Don Hewitt, 1922-2009

Been a tough summer for the titans of early television. In front of the camera, Walter Cronkite was taken from us in July. And now comes the news that Don Hewitt, as great behind the camera as Walter was in front, has joined Walter.

Don Hewitt was 86. He is best known as the inventor of the tv news magazine - 60 Minutes, which debuted on CBS in 1968, and is the longest running prime time show on network television.

But Hewitt was there - meaning, here, on the screen, with us - far earlier. My parents bought their first television set in 1951, when I was four years old. I can't say that I remember the first broadcast of See It Now, with a cameo by Don Hewitt, on November 18, 1951 - but I know my parents did, because we talked about it years later.

Jonathan Sanders, formerly at CBS News, and now at Fordham University (I was pleased to bring to our faculty when I was Chair, several years ago), was good enough to send me this clip from that 1951 premier, now on YouTube. Jonathan notes Edward R. Murrow's classic line, at the beginning of the clip, "This is an old team trying to learn a new trade."

Keep watching, and you'll see and hear a little of Don Hewitt (bringing producers out front on a show was not an invention of Saturday Night Live....)

Nowadays, in the age of Twitter and YouTube and other new new media, we're all an old team learning a new trade - and it's never been more fun.

Thanks, Don, for helping blaze this trail that got us here.

See also Walter Cronkite Reaches the Cosmos
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