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US: CBS News pioneer Don Hewitt dies at 86

Thu Aug 20 03:31:48 EST 2009

NEW YORK, Aug 20 AP - Don Hewitt, the CBS Newsman who invented 60 Minutes, has died, the network announced on Wednesday.

Hewitt, 86, died of pancreatic cancer on Wednesday at his home in Bridgehampton, New York, CBS said.

Hewitt joined CBS News in television's infancy in 1948, and produced the first televised presidential debate between John F Kennedy and Richard Nixon in 1960.

He made his mark in the late 1960s when CBS agreed to try his idea of a one-hour broadcast that mixed hard news and feature stories.

CBS's 60 Minutes was a pioneer of the now-familiar "news magazine" format.

Hewitt dreamed of a television version of Life, the dominant magazine of the mid-20th century, where interviews with entertainers could coexist with investigations that exposed corporate malfeasance.

"The formula is simple," he wrote in a memoir in 2001, "and it's reduced to four words every kid in the world knows: Tell me a story. It's that easy".

The 60 Minutes stopwatch began ticking on September 24, 1968, and Hewitt produced the show for 36 years, up until 2004. During his stewardship, the program won 73 Emmy Awards.