On The Menu: Assessing “60 Minutes”


Today on the media- bistro.com Morning Media Menu podcast, Los Angeles Times reporter Matea Gold joined hosts Jason Boog of GalleyCat and AgencySpy‘s Matt Van Hoven to discuss her recent article about CBS News’ “60 Minutes.”

“I thought it would be a really fascinating time to take a step back and look at what’s going on inside the show because its creator Don Hewitt passed away last month and he had really been a constant presence there even though he retired in 2004,” Gold explained. “’60 Minutes’ is, in some ways, really an anomaly in our new media universe because its an old media show conceived 41 years ago and it still is one of the few that commands regularly and reliably a mass audience every Sunday. And that is a pretty miraculous thing.”

In fact, the show saw viewership grow 10 percent in last season compared to the year before, growth that Gold attributes to the show’s coverage of Barack Obama and the increasing profile of contributor Steve Kroft.

“They also did a lot of really hard-hitting reporting on the financial crisis and in a lot of ways just hewed closely to the formula that Don Hewitt conceived of, which is a really strong mix of newsy features, investigative pieces and fun, lighter take-offs that I think there’s still a really big audience for in this country,” Gold said.

Gold also discussed the aging audience that all television news shows is facing, although she noted that the audience of “60 Minutes” has actually stayed the same age over the years, and it is a year younger than the average age of the audience that watches the evening network news. “60 Minutes” has also stayed fresh by adding correspondents like Katie Couric, Lara Logan, Anderson Cooper and Byron Pitts.

But is there a future for “60 Minutes” and other shows like it? Opined Gold: “I think if programs like ’60’ can evolve enough to provide their content online in an on-demand format, then viewers who are younger will get to know the brand and consistently turn to them. But, it’s a matter of figuring out an economic model that works for that.”

Also discussed: New York Times columnist William Safire’s death yesterday and his contribution to language and journalism.

Read more of Gold’s article here.

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