Don Hewitt, one of the early pioneers of broadcast journalism, died today at the age of 86.
Mr. Hewitt, who spent more than a half century at CBS News, helped create 60 Minutes, and worked extensively with the late Walter Cronkite, who recently passed away.
Earlier this year, Mr. Hewitt had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
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Hewitt also directed the first network television newscast, featuring Douglas Edwards, on May 3, 1948. He was the executive producer of the first half-hour network newscast when the CBS Evening News With Walter Cronkite became the first to go to a 30-minute format on Sept. 2, 1963. Among Hewitt’s innovations was the use of cue cards for newsreaders, the electronic version of which, the TelePrompTer, is still used today. He was the first to use “supers” – putting type in the lower third of the television screen. Another invention of Hewitt’s was the film “double” – cutting back and forth between two projectors – an editing breakthrough that re-shaped television news. Hewitt also helped develop the positioning of cameras and reporters still used to cover news events, especially political conventions.
Hewitt had seemingly done it all for broadcast news when he topped those achievements by producing his magnum opus, the television news magazine 60 Minutes – a new concept that changed television news forever and became the biggest hit in the medium’s history. “His real monument is 60 Minutes,” said another broadcasting legend, the late Roone Arledge, when he presented Hewitt with the Founder’s Emmy in 1995. “He is truly an innovator in this business…[the news magazine] is an innovative format no one had done before. It’s been copied all over the world…He’s been a leader in our industry. He has inspired all sorts of people,” said Arledge.