20180917

20/20

"We are an appointment program," Victor Neufeld, former executive producer of '20/20', told 'The New York Times' in 1991. "They tell us we bring ABC a whole new audience at 10 o'clock." In the 1987-88 season, ABC decided to move '20/20' from Thursday night to fill a prime-time slot on Friday. "Our audience (some 11 million viewers in 1988), who watched us on Thursday night, came with us to Friday night.

"We don't have to rely on whoever is still watching after the show before us ends. In fact, a big part of our audience isn't even watching TV during the hour before we come on the air. We work very hard at the concept of being close to our viewers. We do pieces that reflect what we think is of interest around the country. We are not into ourselves and do stories we think we want to do."

The stories on '20/20', Victor Neufeld told 'The New York Times', would appeal to "the conservative, traditional American household," such as consumer and health-oriented topics and "high-impact, high-emotion stories. We're not an urbane, hip, ultra-sophisticated program and we don't want to be. Barbara (Walters) is a major entity and she deserves consideration. Hugh (Downs) and Barbara are the soul of the program. They're not hip and they're not boringly old; they're middle-American superstars."

Don Hewitt of '60 Minutes' confessed to being a fan of '20/20' but made the point, "We're lucky. We pull great ratings every week. We don't have to do exorcisms to get them." In one segment, '20/20' "presented a live exorcism, performed with the full co-operation of the Roman Catholic Church." The difference between '20/20' and '60 Minutes', Victor Neufeld explained, "There are some stories we would both do. The major world leader. But we wouldn't do the quirky event in some small English village. We wouldn't do the obscure musician (such as Vladimir Horowitz)."

Of Don Hewitt, Sheila Nevins of HBO observed, "In any story, no matter how obscure, he finds the tangible, human thing that makes it interesting." 'The New York Times' noted, "Mr. Hewitt likes to say he uses the 'hey, Mildred' test: 'If I can hear a viewer at home saying to his wife, 'Hey, Mildred, you got any idea what these guys are talking about?' then we're off track.' On paper, I have 22 producers and 5 correspondents. To me, I've got 27 reporters."

On reflection, Victor Neufeld remarked, "To develop a successful newsmagazine, the key is to have people who the audience likes and wants to be with for an hour. I just think that there's a great deal of affection for Barbara and Hugh out there." By the 1988-89 season, '20/20' reportedly began beating its competition 'Dallas' on CBS. Then at the start of the 1995-96 season, '20/20' held a rare lead over '60 Minutes' after landing major gets.

Victor Neufeld told the press at the time, "We want to wait a year (until the end of the 1995-96 season) before we uncork the champagne. We're in our 17th season. We've always been in the shadow of '60 Minutes'. We have a long road before we can celebrate. We're happy with slow, steady growth." At the time '20/20' was averaging 14.5% households ratings and 26% audience share (or an average of 21,030,000 viewers).

However 'New York Daily News' pointed out, "There are a couple of reasons for '20/20's' lead. The program has scored huge ratings with shows featuring interviews with Colin Powell and Christopher Reeve (which was watched in about 18.8 million homes). Moreover, '60 Minutes' is suffering fallout from CBS' sagging prime-time slate, as well as from not having NFL football as a lead-in.

"It's very possible that '20/20's' lead won't hold up. When football ends next month (in January 1996) on Fox and NBC, some of the viewers drawn away from '60 Minutes' will likely return. Also, overall audience levels tend to remain steady on Sunday nights throughout the season, while they decline on Fridays, where '20/20' airs, as the weather warms up."

Victor Neufeld stressed '20/20' "has always differentiated itself from '60 Minutes' 'by being extremely relevant and by going after stories of high impact and close connection to the audience. ('60 Minutes') is a strong, vibrant program. (Don Hewitt) has a great vision that has worked for (over) 25 years (1968-1995). We just elected to go in a slightly different direction. It works for us.'"

20180916

NEWS-YOU-CAN-USE

In the special 1999 issue of 'Nieman Reports', Marc Gunther discussed network news. "Because so much has been written recently about the decline of the Big Three (ABC, CBS, NBC) and the rise of cable and the Internet, it is worth observing that network news still matters. In turn, what stories the Big Three choose to broadcast and how they tell them also still matters. 

"During 1998, the three evening newscasts reached a combined average of about 30.4 million viewers in 22 million homes. This represents a reach that is greater than the total circulation of the nation's 10 largest newspapers. Prime time news programs connect with even larger audiences. CBS's '60 Minutes' (Sunday), the industry leader, has attracted an average of 13.4 million homes so far during the 1998-99 TV season. 

"And '60 Minutes' is only one of 14 prime-time, hour-long news shows appearing on the Big Three. No cable program or newspaper has anything approaching that kind of reach. The most popular cable news program, CNN's 'Larry King Live', is seen by fewer than one million homes on a typical night. The Big Three networks are still, by far, the most commanding voices in American journalism and therefore one of the most important forces in our democracy.

"Last year (1998), ABC, CBS and NBC each had discussions with CNN about sharing staff and bureaus outside of the United States. While a full-fledged merger between a broadcast network and CNN appears unlikely, increased cooperation of some kind seems inevitable. The technique of 'pooling', in which news operations share footage from a single camera as they do in Congress and at the White House, has already begun to spread overseas. 

"'Internationally, you will probably see some consolidation of resources,' says Pat Fili-Krushel, the President of ABC, who oversees ABC News. The networks argue that they don't need as many bureaus and reporters now because their role has changed. Rather than trying to be first on the air with a headline or a picture, the mission at ABC, CBS and NBC is defined as providing so-called value-added programming - in-depth analysis and original reporting that 24-hour cable services and local TV can’t duplicate. 

"This makes sense, but it’s difficult to provide thoughtful reporting of stories around the nation and the world without reporters on the ground who are given the resources to develop expertise. Paul Friedman, Executive Producer of ABC's 'World News Tonight', says, 'Journalism is about going out and looking at things, and you can’t do that by buying video from APTV … You wind up doing a lot more of what we did before the news budgets expanded and that was parachute in. 

"'If you have good people who have a lot of experience, you can generally parachute in and do a good job. But it is not the same as having somebody on the ground who calls you and says, you know, you really ought to come and look at this developing story.' The same goes for coverage in Washington, where specialized beats have been gradually eliminated or several assignments have been combined. 

"The war in Yugoslavia in the spring of 1999 exemplifies some of the problems that accompany these new approaches to network news coverage. No network had been covering the emerging crisis in Kosovo on an ongoing basis. Few reporters knew Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, knew much about the tensions fueling the crisis, or had established sources in the region. Even the best correspondents covering the NATO bombing and the mass eviction of Albanians were new to this story. 

"When the Pentagon and the Serbs both clamped down on information, many in the press were largely unprepared to cover aspects of this story and, as a consequence, many critics felt the public was ill served. Compared with hard news - expensive to cover and limited in the return it can deliver - the economics of prime time newsmagazines are very attractive. They don’t require bureaus with people stationed around the world. 

"Typically, they rely on their own staffs of producers and correspondents to cover stories that they decide when, where and how to do. Controlling costs becomes easier. Executives in charge of newsmagazines can opt not to cover a complicated high-cost story, or they can decide to keep staff closer to home rather than pay for expensive travel. Unlike the daily news programs, newsmagazines do joint ventures and piggyback onto coverage generated by others. 

"For example, NBC's 'Dateline' does projects with 'People' and 'In Style' magazines, Court TV and the Discovery Channel, among others, all of which save money. Newsmagazines, as a genre, perform nearly as well as entertainment on a year-round basis. Prime time newsmagazines can tell compelling stories, attract bigger audiences, fill more hours, and operate more efficiently than unpredictable hard-news programming."

'The Washington Post' reported in September 1995, "Summer ratings were exceptionally strong for 'Dateline NBC', ABC's 'PrimeTime Live' and '20/20', and CBS's '60 Minutes', and several shows broke major stories last week. (However) many magazines resorted to repetitive coverage of the O.J. Simpson trial, while all but ignoring a host of more substantive topics, such as the economy, business, education, science and religion.

"Not as fortunate were ABC's 'Day One' and CBS's 'Eye To Eye with Connie Chung', which were canceled. Network producers say that, with fewer magazines on the air, the survivors will be stronger. Each network has its own strategy to revitalize the genre. At CBS, Don Hewitt, Executive Producer of '60 Minutes', has set out to make the program more timely.

"'60 Minutes' also delivers more foreign news than any other magazine. Mike Wallace interviewing Radovan Karadzic, the Bosnian Serb President and accused war criminal; and Ed Bradley profiling Latif Yahia, who acted as a body-double for Saddam Hussein's son during the Persian Gulf War and now living in exile in London. While '60 Minutes' relies on its stable of well-known, albeit aging, stars, NBC and Andrew Lack have turned 'Dateline' into what amounts to a 'store brand' magazine, a generic show that draws on all of NBC's anchors and a slew of not-so-big-name correspondents.

"That approach controls costs - 'Dateline' produces three hours a week with a staff of about 200, roughly the same number ABC needs to make the one-hour 'PrimeTime Live' and '20/20' - and diminishes infighting, which has plagued other magazines. 'Our idea was, let's just put one great team together, rather than create walls within the house where we compete with each other,' Lack says. 'In the other shops, there is respect and politeness among colleagues but the fact is, you aren't rooting for the other's success.' NBC also produces, at almost no added cost, a European version of 'Dateline'.

"By contrast, ABC wants its news hours to be distinctive, not only by virtue of their anchor-stars but because of their styles. 'PrimeTime' spotlights investigations and aims for a hipper, edgier feel, a video version, say, of 'Vanity Fair', whereas '20/20' has a middle-American flavor, built around Barbara Walters's profiles, self-help stories, emotional human-interest pieces and investigations.

"'To build a successful franchise, a newsmagazine should have its own voice and its own personality,' says ABC's Alan Wurtzel. 'These things should not be generic.' Last week (at the start of the 1995-96 season), as the networks began rolling out new dramas and comedies, the magazines more than held their own, commercially and journalistically."

Marc Gunther continued with the 'Nieman Reports', "Whatever one thinks of the network prime time magazines, even a casual viewer can see that they are not governed by news values in the traditional sense. Executive producers of these magazines don’t see themselves as under any obligation to cover the most important stories of the moment. Nor do they act like the kind of journalist whose job it is to provide citizens with information they need to participate in a democracy.

"Ratings for hard news have slid, in part, because of the explosion in alternative news sources. Consumers can pick up stories from all-news cable, Internet news sites (including those operated by the networks), local stations (which broadcast up to six hours of news a day in major markets), business cable news outlets, the Weather Channel, sports news channels, all-news radio and National Public Radio.

"In response, the newscasts anchored by ABC's Peter Jennings, NBC's Tom Brokaw, and CBS's Dan Rather are reporting fewer 'headline' stories, preferring to highlight in-depth stories, live interviews and news-you-can-use. Even so, their combined audience share has declined from a peak of 75% in 1980 to 47% in 1998. 'Good journalism is good business. '60 Minutes', 'Nightline' and the 'Today' show are these unique programs that go back for … years, that are just embedded in the national consciousness as very reliable, quality programs. Each of us is fortunate to have one of those franchises. They're pillars,' says NBC's Andrew Lack.

"In fact, unlike dramas and sitcoms, which run out of steam and leave the air, established news programs seem able to go on for decades. CBS's Andrew Heyward says news programs offer 'a wonderful combination of the familiar and the new,' familiar faces and formats, renewed daily or weekly with new headlines and fresh stories. Says David Westin, the President of ABC News, 'They go on forever, you don't have to reinvent them, and they draw an audience, week after week, month after month.'"

20180914

NEWS

At the Washington State University in 1997, Sam Donaldson was awarded the first Edward R. Murrow (journalism) Award for Lifetime Achievement in Broadcasting. He was asked to address the Murrow Symposium.

Chris Peck of 'The Spokeman Review' reviewed Sam's keynote speech, "In Pullman, Donaldson made an entertaining case that journalists have never been loved, that their work always has been controversial, and therefore there isn't much difference between Ed Murrow's day (during World War II years and the 1950s) and today's (the 1990s) TV news. Donaldson only drew one distinction between then and now - today’s broadcast journalists must make the news more interesting because people are distracted and the media are far more competitive than before." 

However, "news involves facts, implications, complicated pros and cons. These don’t always bring high ratings. And that’s the problem with Donaldson’s argument. To make the news interesting and to build ratings often results in a type of news gathering and news presentation that does a disservice to both journalism and the public interest.

"The best journalists make judgments on the importance of stories and try to give a complete picture. Murrow developed the genre known as eyewitness accounts. Murrow perfected what we now call the in-depth interview. The substance of what Murrow did then and what the best journalists try to do today isn't much changed. But the style and tone of Ed Murrow then and Sam Donaldson now couldn’t be more different." 

In 1997, Roone Arledge moved into the role of chairman of the news division. A role insiders at ABC considered signaled the passing of an era. The Arledge era was said to have peaked in the early 1990s. In 1989, Roone Arledge pioneered the program 'PrimeTime Live', which was supposed to change the face of television news. 'New York' magazine reported, "Despairing of solving its Thursday problem with entertainment shows, ABC gave the time (10pm) to the news division. Roone Arledge had to find the product. And so 'PrimeTime Live' was born." 

Scheduled against two established shows with intensely loyal followings - 'Knots Landing' and 'L.A. Law', 'PrimeTime Live' could not match the hype. 'The Washington Post' reported in July 1989, "Topicality is a watchword with Donaldson. 'If a big story breaks on Thursday, we beat 'Nightline',' said Donaldson. 'If it comes on a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, we've got a problem. Everybody's still talking about it, but it's been on - Teddy has had it on 'Nightline' and the evening news. If we can't take a different approach, we'll take a pass. But I think we have more wit than that.' Some stories can be fully anticipated and partly planned." 

Eventually, executive producer Rick Kaplan told 'The New York Times' in 1991, "I had to change the show until I liked it (hence 'PrimeTime Live' became a '60 Minutes'-type show). Now I think we have a program I can truly recommend people to watch. We set out to do an experiment (for instance the live studio audience). It didn't work. Maybe it didn't work because it was a gimmick, but we didn't set out to do a gimmick." 

After Christmas 1991. Sam Donaldson: This week produces one of those events that can change the course of civilization. The last President of the Soviet Union resigns his office and the Soviet Union - the Evil Empire of its time - ceases to exist. How often have we wish we could witness such event first hand from the inside? Well Ted Koppel has done just that. He watches it happens in Moscow over the last week at the sight of Mikhail Gorbachev – the last of the Soviet's leaders, the man whom many believe brought it about. Koppel was there as Gorbachev and the Soviet Union passes into history (1917-1991). 

Ted Koppel: For the past several days we have been inside the Kremlin watching as the power of one of the most celebrated leaders of our time drains away. 

Mikhail Gorbachev: What is the difference between the statesman and the politician? It is said that the politician thinks about the next election but the stateman thinks about the future. There is so much tension today in our society, so many problems, our society simply cannot be able, may not be able to bear it. There is a fable that I learned years ago and that I treat very seriously. 

"Centuries ago, there was a young ruler in the Orient and he wanted to rule in a different way, in a more human way in his kingdom. And he asked the views of the wise men, and it took ten years to bring twenty carts with volumes of advice. He said, 'When am I going to read all that? I have to govern my country.' Ten years later, they brought him just ten volumes of advice. He said: 'That too is too much.' 

"Five years later he was brought just one volume, small volume. But, unfornately, twenty-five years had passed and he was on his death bed. And when the wise man looked at the book, he didn't even give the book to the dying man. He said, 'Well all in all, all that is here can be summarized in a simple formula: People are born. People suffer. And people die.'" 

Three days after the screening of 'Gorbachev: The Final Hours', ABC showed the 1960 movie, 'Spartacus' directed by Stanley Kubrick and starring Kirk Douglas. The movie about the Roman Empire was described as a "restored classic with footage never before seeing on television." 

Ted Koppel told 'The Washington Post', "Roone is one of the world's great salesmen. He makes you feel that you are the center of the universe." Sam Donaldson added, "Roone Arledge made and created ABC News." Roone Arledge maintained, "If five hundred new colas were introduced tomorrow, Coca-Cola would be more important than ever. The dependable, well-established brands survive - unless they self-destruct." 

Roone Arledge, who introduced the stars system, believed, "They give us weight and importance. They have an impact on news-makers around the world that makes it easier for us to get them on our programs." One of ABC's biggest stars was Diane Sawyer, who had worked at the Nixon White House. She was often being wooed by Fox, CBS and NBC.

Tom Brokaw had stated, "It would be terrific to have her at NBC. She's a premier television-news player. One of the knocks on us (NBC) is that we don't have enough talent on the next level down - enough star quality. Though we have an impressive generation of reporters coming up behind me, the television audience is not aware of this. It would be helpful to me when I go away to have someone like Diane. I'm on a short leash. Though we have people who can step in (such as Jane Pauley, Stone Phillips, Katie Couric), they all have day jobs."

In 1994, 'The New Yorker' reported, "The richest dollar offer so far has come from Rupert Murdoch's Fox network. Murdoch has met personally with Sawyer. Richard Liebner, Sawyer's agent, hinted to ABC officials that Murdoch had offered close to ten million dollars annually if Sawyer would agree to anchor a magazine show on Sunday directly after John Madden and the N.F.C. games. Its competition would be '60 Minutes'.

"A Fox executive puts the offer closer to seven million dollars. Murdoch, less concerned with costs than with establishing a franchise, has now paid liberally to launch a sports division and may want Sawyer to launch a news division. 'We want somebody with news credentials,' an important Fox executive says. 'If we got her, we would be very aggressive in news.'"

By the 1994-95 season, ABC was forced to move 'PrimeTime Live' from Thursday at 10pm to Wednesday at 10pm after NBC scheduled the medical juggernaut, 'ER' starring George Clooney right next door. However even on Wednesday night, 'PrimeTime Live' still had to face the challenge of a resurgent 'Law & Order'. In June 1995, Diane Sawyer landed a coup - a live, one-hour 'PrimeTime' interview with Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley.

The program attracted 25.9% households ratings and 42% audience share (about 60 million viewers were watching). The 'PrimeTime' special reportedly was part of a $30 million marketing campaign to launch Michael Jackson's double album, 'HIStory'. 'The Los Angeles Times' reported, "The Jackson interview is a high-profile 'get' for 'PrimeTime' and Sawyer, who first put in her request for an interview 18 months ago (January 1994). According to Bob Jones, Jackson's spokesman, Jackson agreed to be interviewed by Sawyer because 'he had met her and knew her work as a journalist.'"

20180910

PRIMETIME LIVE

In 1995, Olive Talley, formerly of 'The Dallas Morning News' joined 'PrimeTime Live'. "The news gathering and reporting isn’t much different (between print and television) but the storytelling is much different. The facts and information have to be there, but the pictures do, too," Olive Talley observed.

Of her work on 'PrimeTime', Diane Sawyer told 'The Los Angeles Times' in 1994, "It's all about balance and proportion. I do about 40 pieces a year on 'PrimeTime,' and 90% of them are a serious investigation of issues that can affect people's lives. I think critics tend to remember the 'tabloid-style' stories more than the work that we spend most of our time on. 'PrimeTime Live' has done far fewer of those stories than some other shows." 

August 1991: At "a time when darkness had fallen in Moscow", Mikhail Gorbachev was ousted from power following a coup d'état. Diane Sawyer was the first to arrive in the Moscow government building known as the "White House" to interview Russian Federation leader Boris Yeltsin. The Russian Federation Building represented "the Soviet Union's hopes for democracy." Former Foreign Minister Eduard A. Shevardnadze reportedly had forecast dictatorship on the Soviet horizon.

In the early morning hours, ABC scored the first TV news scoop in coverage of the Soviet coup with the taped interview with Boris Yeltsin to be shown on the 'World News Tonight with Peter Jennings' newscast. In those days, "Russia was still part of a dying Soviet Union."

Eight years later in May 1999, Dan Rather flew to Belgrade to interview "the influential Marxist academic", Madam professor, Mirjana Markovic, whose husband was the Yugoslavian President Slobodan Milosevic. At the time, he was regarded "the new Hitler" for his role in the ethnic cleansing in Kosovo which triggered NATO air bombing.

Lesley Stahl introduced the story on '60 Minutes' noted, "Seldom, if ever, does she meet with Western journalists and, as far as we know, has never sat down on camera with an American. But that's what she did this weekend with Dan Rather." However Howard Rosenberg argued, "Sawyer's brief time with Yeltsin was widely hailed as a great scoop, even though it lasted just a few thin sound bites. Clearly, this episode was the gateway to a decade in which TV news interviews of prominent figures were to be applauded merely when there was an interview, regardless of it yielding no news.

"That was surely the subliminal message of Rather's interview with Markovic. It was so empty that the Associated Press - America's news agency of record - began its brief story on the interview with a lead that could have been written without anyone seeing it. '60 Minutes' gave no indication that the interview was censored by the Yugoslavs. Nor was there any mention of what was edited from the videotape because of time limitations, such choices being inevitable when presenting a TV story. You assume, though, that '60 Minutes' went with the best it had.

"Based on what did air, there were several replies from Markovic that cried out for follow-ups from Rather, a serious journalist who has been on the front lines of wars and numerous other big stories. But they never came. One could argue that there was titillating value in just observing the powerful, forceful wife of someone widely accused of being a war criminal ... In other words, the (Markovic interview was the) stuff of 'Entertainment Tonight'."

Speaking to James Endrst of 'Hartford Courant' in 1995, Diane Sawyer made the point network newsmagazines were not going tabloid, "The competition is with each other. I don't think any one of us is driven by those shows ('Hard Copy' or 'A Current Affair'). I think we've gotten ourselves into this corner where we're flaying each other mightily over tabloidization and 'how dare we do a Michael Jackson story' and 'how dare we do a Menendez story'.

"I never understood the idea that topics should be off limits. It's about how intelligently you do the stories and whether you do them out of proportion to what they deserve and if you have news when you're doing them. All this sanctimony about what people should be interested in seems to me so much sanctimony. I think it would be wonderful if all the world wanted to spend six hours learning about the Law of the Sea treaty or learning about population quirks in Central Africa.

"But you show me somebody who's going to watch six hours of that, and I'll show someone who is on barbiturates. It will not happen in our lifetime. I just don't understand, as I say, all the pieties. Sometimes we have not been smart, and sometimes we have been way out of proportion. But to take us to task generally makes no sense. We should just be careful in the specific. '60 Minutes' has been doing it a long time. The rest of us are learning."

Jon Katz, formerly of CBS, told 'The Los Angeles Times' in 1994, "Diane Sawyer is at an interesting place in her career. She can sometimes be cloying when she's interviewing another famous person - she literally swooned in an interview with Mikhail Baryshnikov a few years ago, and I'm not sure what news came out of her interview with Boris Yeltsin after the Soviet coup. But she's established herself as a credible news authority, and 'PrimeTime Live' is one of the most serious of the newsmagazines."

As reported at the time, "Rupert Murdoch, seeking to build a news division for his network, wanted Sawyer to anchor a prime-time newsmagazine following the NFL football games he is bringing to Fox this fall (the 1994-95 season) … Sources say that both the CBS and Fox deals involved more money than what ABC offered." However Diane Sawyer told Jane Hall over lunch, "It was not about the money."

Roone Arledge remarked, "Diane Sawyer is one of a handful of people in TV news - like Peter Jennings, Ted Koppel or Barbara Walters - who are able to make or break a franchise in news ... She is someone whose presence on a news program makes a difference. It's like putting Michael Jordan into the game. You want to watch what she does."

Diane Sawyer continued, "It was about how you're going to spend your working life over the next several years. Each of the networks is trying to figure out how to use the air time that we have on newsmagazines. I stayed at ABC to continue to work with Roone and other ABC executives and with the producers, correspondents and anchors at the network."

Of working with Barbara Walters, "Our shows ('20/20' and 'PrimeTime') have been competitive for interviews and we're competitive journalists. But we're respectful of each other's work, and we'd rather one of us get the interview than have it go to someone at CBS or NBC." In 1994, Diane Sawyer could be seen on 'PrimeTime Live' as well as 'Turning Point' and 'Day One'.

However Diane Sawyer insisted, "It's not as megalomaniacal as it sounds. I'm not the engine; I'm one of the interchangeable parts among the anchors."  Diane Sawyer also stressed, "I have a lot of ideas and opinions, but I'm not sure my role is so central. Yes, I have power at the network, but so do Peter and Ted and Barbara and the executive producers of our programs."

20180908

NEWS

Known for its hard-hitting investigative reporting, the TV magazine 'Dateline NBC' was more "closer to the news of the day." Neal Shapiro told 'Time' in 2001, "The rule used to be that when there was a big, breaking news story, if you didn't see it on the evening news, the next place to catch it was your local news, and then maybe 'Nightline'. We ('Dateline NBC') said, 'No. If it's a great story, we'll have it that night.'" 

At one time, 'Dateline NBC' could be seen on five nights a week. Stone Phillips observed, "Being on five nights a week is going to help us from the standpoint that we like to be the newsiest magazine." Jane Pauley celebrated her silver jubilee (25 years on the air) in the fall of 1997. Speaking to 'USA Weekend', Jane Pauley remarked, "I grew into middle age and recognized a confidence and strength that were unfamiliar to me, and I like them." 

In the world of "high-testosterone journalism", Neal Shapiro noted, "She doesn't do the investigative, breaking news stories. What Jane does best are the stories where she can really connect with people, real triumph over tragedy." Jane Pauley married cartoonist Garry Trudeau since 1980. "We both can be fairly judgmental. But it is based on an optimism of high expectations. The big difference between us professionally is that I am absolutely wedded to the concept of objectivity and fairness, and Garry will point out that, as a satirist, unfairness is his stock and trade." 

Connie Chung became a Fellow at the Shorenstein Center in 1997. In 1998, Connie Chung wrote the Discussion Paper "The Business of Getting 'The Get'" for Harvard University. In the 1970s, Connie Chung informed, "'60 Minutes' and '20/20' were the only news magazines and the only outlets for lengthy interviews. But in the 1980s and 1990s, the game changed. There was an explosion of television news magazines." 

William Small was quoted stating, "In the old days, there was a pecking order. If you represented 'The New York Times', doors flew open. If you were a crusader, you wanted to appear on '60 Minutes' (an American TV institution). If you had something to hide, you dreaded '60 Minutes'. If you were a celebrity, you wanted Barbara Walters to interview you. Now, TV has eclipsed most of print with all these magazine programs. There is competition for all these interviews like never before. It has created a fertile field for the handlers and spin doctors to manipulate the media." 

Connie Chung continued, "Prime time news magazines, with their high-profile anchors, big budgets, and big ratings, have changed the quest for the 'get'. More than any program or any trend, however, a television news pioneer named Barbara Walters has made it an art-form. She has interviewed just about every world leader in her time: China's Jiang Zemin, (the former) Czechoslovakia's Vaclav Havel, Cuba's Fidel Castro, Haiti's Jean-Claude Duvalier, Britain's Margaret Thatcher, Libya's Muammar Qadaffi, and every American president since Richard Nixon. World leaders know her on a first name basis.

"That was then. Today, Walters says, 'viewers aren't interested in world leaders. They are not interested in foreign, hard news. They would not watch Sadat and Begin (former Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin) … In March (1997), CBS' king of 'gets' Mike Wallace interviewed Iranian leader Hashemi Rafsanjani.

"Barbara Walters noted that '60 Minutes' can interview 'a Rafsanjani' and survive because of the program's history, strength, and track record. She said she could not interview someone like Rafsanjani today on '20/20'. Wallace believes there are few world leaders anyone would want to 'get' today. As he put it, 'who would you like to see and hear that you're not hearing from?' 

"'60 Minutes' still airs more international stories than other television news magazines. But '20/20' and the others fight a fierce battle for ratings against entertainment programming. A 'get' brings viewers into the tent. As 'Dateline's' Executive Producer Neal Shapiro put it, 'You can't live on big 'gets' alone, but they are the bright neon sign that brings them (viewers) in.'" 

In 2009, viewers learnt about mind reading on '60 Minutes'. Lesley Stahl reported on functional MRI (or fMRI) which made it possible to see what was going on inside the brain. Neuroscientist Marcel Just told Lesley Stahl, he called it "thought identification." The story produced by Shari Finkelstein featured neuroscientist John Dylan-Haynes in Berlin at the Bernstein Center. "You might be able to tell if someone's been in an al Qaeda training camp before." As reported, "Haynes found he could read directly from the activity in a small part of the brain that controls intentions what they had decided to do."

Paul Root Wolpe, director of the Center for Ethics at Emory University in Atlanta, told Lesley Stahl, "I always tell my students that there is no science fiction anymore. All the science fiction I read in high school, we're doing. Throughout history, we could never actually coerce someone to reveal information. Torture doesn't work that well, persuasion doesn't work that well. The right to keep one's thoughts locked up in their brain is amongst the most fundamental rights of being human."

One of the pioneers in the field of "neuromarketing", neuroscientist Gemma Calvert, made known, "What we've seen is a sort of snowballing effect over the last few years. I think there are about 92 neuromarketing agencies worldwide." 

Lesley Stahl: Do you think one day, who knows how far into the future, there'll be a machine that'll be able to read very complex thought like 'I hate so-and-so'? Or you know, 'I love the ballet because…'? 

Marcel Just: Definitely. Definitely. And not in 20 years (possibly 2029). I think in three, five years (say around 2014). 

In 2010, time travel was discussed when Lelsey Stahl reported on superior autobiographical memory. The story featured violinist Louise Owen, "Right now (in 2010), I'm remembering the jogging class that I started that morning (on January 2, 1990 - over 20 years earlier). I can feel it. I can remember the coach saying, 'Keep going.'" Louise Owen told Lesley Stahl she could remember every day of her life since the age of 11. 

Dr. James McGaugh, a renowned expert on memory, was the first to discover and studied superior autobiographical memory. He told Lesley Stahl this type of memory was completely new to science, "These people remember things that you and I couldn't possibly remember and they're not memorizing. There's no trick? They can do with their memories what you and I can do about yesterday, but, they can do it every day. And when I ask, 'What goes on in your brain? What goes on in your mind,' they give the very unsatisfying response, 'I just see it. It's just there.'"

Louise Owen expressed, "Sometimes, having this sort of extreme memory can be a very isolating sort of thing. There are times when I feel like I'm fluent in a language that nobody else speaks. Or that I'm walking around and everybody else has amnesia." Lesley Stahl told viewers, "McGaugh is doing MRI scans of all the subjects, searching for clues that might be hidden in the structure of their brains. Beyond the fun of asking what happened on a specific date and knowing you'll actually get an answer, there is a lot at stake here. 

"The discovery of people with instant access to virtually every day of their lives could recast our whole understanding of how human memory works, and what is possible. And that has implications for all of us. Is it possible we all have memories of every day tucked away in our brains, but we just can't retrieve them? Could understanding these remarkable people someday help with Alzheimer's and other memory disorders?"

Back in 1996, Cher spoke to Jane Pauley on the 'Dateline NBC' program to promote her album 'It's A Man World'. Cher made the comment, "My mom said to me, 'You know sweetheart, one day you should settle down and marry a rich man. I said, 'Mom, I am a rich man.' I've been notorious. I've been infamous. I've been famous for being famous and I've done some really good work. And it's all kind of thrown in there. I'm not … I'm very messy. I am a very messy icon. 

"It wasn't meant to be a compliment but I absolutely took it like this - after nuclear holocaust, there would be cockroaches and Cher. And so I feel that you know there is some validity to that. You know, fame is done with smoke and mirror. I'm the person that's when I'm hot, I'm the new improved Cher and when I'm not is the old and tired Cher. There are all kind of things about me that no one knows but go to make me who I am. 

"I have done this throughout my career. I am very, very visible and then I'm gone. And then I'm very, very visible and then I'm gone because it's too hot near the light sometimes. I'm different but I'm different to such a degree, someone, it makes people uncomfortable - including myself. I could do it a lot safer. I could do it a lot more planned but it's not me. You know, I mean, careful is to me, like way down on my list of things to be."

'People Weekly' 1988: When the stars want over-the-top, there's only one place to go: the Studio City fitting rooms of designer Bob Mackie. The client who brought Mackie the most visibility is Cher, whom he began dressing in 1971 for 'The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour'. 

Bob Mackie recounted, "She was never nervous about showing too much skin. She was size 8 in the shoulder and size 2 in the midriff. Everyone said she must have had her ribs removed. I put Goldie (Hawn) in a low-slung skirt and little bra thing for Las Vegas. Cher saw it and wanted the same one. I told her she couldn't have it, but I'd make her something similar. Of course, Cher ended up with a hundred versions of that outfit over the years, while Goldie only had one."

Cher continued in 1996, "My mother just said, 'You're not going to be the prettiest. You're not going to be the youngest. You're not going to be the most talented. But whatever you have, if you put those things together, you have something special." In September 1989, the song, 'If I Could Turn Back Time' written by Diane Warren peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 after spending 23 weeks on the chart. The music video was filmed on board the USS Missouri while it was stationed at the former Long Beach Naval Shipyard at Pier D along with the crew. 

'The Washington Post', January 1990:  If battleships could blush, the USS Missouri would be bright red. This proud World War II vessel that hosted the 1945 surrender of Japan in Tokyo Bay has become the center of a battle over taste. Should the Navy have allowed Cher to film a video in which she pranced around the deck of the Missouri wearing a fishnet G-string?

"The video, 'If I Could Turn Back Time', was so risque that MTV - that arbiter of bad taste - doesn't show it until after 9 p.m. Now a few Navy officials are wishing they could turn back time. The military services get plenty of requests from Hollywood asking for their equipment, bases and people. Most of the projects are turned down. If they are approved, the producers must generally agree to accept suggestions from military critics.

"The conversion of bases, ships and planes to movie sets amounts to nothing more than taxpayer-subsidized giveaways. If the producers are charged a fee, it rarely covers the costs. The Pentagon justifies it by saying that the films are good recruiting tools. That was the thinking when Cher applied to use the Missouri, but now the Navy brass wonders if the recruiting benefit outweighs the criticism from veterans' groups.

"The Navy was at first thrilled with the publicity value of a Cher video. The video 'was an opportunity for us to get national exposure and reach the lucrative recruitable youth audience that watch MTV', one Navy official told us. The viewers would be subjected to the 'subliminal advertisement of the Navy seeing Cher aboard a battleship with sailors.'

"The Navy was right about the 'exposure' and 'subliminal' parts. Cher's producers initially approached the Navy with a modest little video about a sailor who gets a 'Dear John' letter aboard ship. But when Cher saw the massive guns on the Missouri, all modesty was thrown to the wind. Cher donned her mesh and leather strap outfit, and the controversy was on. Navy officials told us the costume was 'an unanticipated change during final stages of production. And it produced an unintended result, in retrospect.'"

20180901

JANE PAULEY

"Jane Pauley was 25 in 1976 when she was plucked from relative obscurity to replace Barbara Walters on 'The Today Show' - winning the 'female sweepstakes', as she referred to it at the time. She grew to become one of the most beloved figures in American broadcasting, someone who seemed to embody the hopes, dreams and 'Can I really have it all?' anxieties of a generation of women in the wake of the feminist movement," 'The Los Angeles Times' noted. 

At 67 in 2018, Jane Pauley told 'The Hollywood Reporter', "If I can give my younger self a piece of advice, 'You'll grow into it, Jane. Don't worry. You'll grow into experience. You'll grow into confidence." Rand Morrison added, "My younger self would never have believed that. I would never, at that age, would believe it's all going to fall into place and work out because I was totally not the kind of person who would believe that."

Between 1992 and 2003, Jane Pauley co-anchored the 'Dateline NBC' program. In separate interviews, Jane Pauley reflected on her times as a working mom, "I was once invited to give a commencement speech to new graduates and my topic was failure, 'Don't be afraid of failure.' As a parent and a role model, the best thing I ever did for my kids was to tell them mom was going to try something. I haven't done this before and that I might not succeed and the odds were pretty long and I did and it was hard and it didn't succeed but I am delighted that I've got a little bit of failure on my résumé.

"But that's my advice, 'Don't be afraid.' 'But what if I fail?' ... Please do not fear failure. Embrace it. Be proud of it … With every failure you're learning a bit more about … What you're learning is, 'that didn't work because?' … As long as you are learning from your choices, you have not been thrown for a loss on a play - a football metaphor that I don't know why I used. Anyway but the bottom line from experts is, 'Do is more important than think.'"

Philip Galanes, 'The New York Times', January 2017: Let’s go back 40 years (to 1976). You’re a pioneer, one of the first women behind the anchor desk of a national news show. Were you getting a million production notes from men about how to be a woman on TV?

Jane Pauley: I would have appreciated notes. I felt like a girl, and I had no idea how to be a woman. Remember, I was replacing Barbara Walters. I don’t think Barbara was ever a girl. She was grown-up and confident and an actual pioneer.

Samantha Bee: I’m sorry to tell you, Jane, you’re an "actual pioneer" too.

Jane Pauley recounted, "NBC sent me all over the world - an audience with the Pope at the Vatican, the Great Wall of China, the Sydney Opera House, waving at the Queen, Royal Wedding, and I never wanted to go. I had small children at home - and so I allowed myself to torture myself  (for being away from them)." By 2014, Jane Pauley's book, 'Your Life Calling' was published, "There has never been a better time in my life to pack my bags and head out on the road."

Jane Pauley: But, wait. Barbara was a self-made woman; Sam is a self-made woman. They created their opportunities. What I give myself credit for is when opportunities presented themselves - and many did - I always said yes. And I made it work, even if it was scary or I didn’t feel quite ready. But that’s different. About a dozen years ago, NBC showed me my audience research for the first time. For years, the quality most associated with me was authenticity. I thought, 'Yeah, I believe that.' I would have argued if they’d said anything else. But somehow, through the fear and learning and work, some authenticity broke through.

Tom Brokaw told 'The Daily Beast', "From the moment I first met Jane - before we were twinned on 'Today' - I was deeply impressed by her grounded Midwestern sensibilities. As a pioneer of her gender and generation in the white hot environment of the rapidly changing demands of broadcast news and morning television she had an inner compass that got her through difficult passages and win the hearts and minds of viewers."

Philip Galanes: Let’s take a look at authority in the news. First, there was just news: stuff that Jane and Tom Brokaw told us. Then there was cable news that often comes with an ideological slant. Then satirical news, like 'The Daily Show' and 'Full Frontal', which aims at the absurdity of news and newsmakers. And now (in January 2017), fake news, just outright lies and the scourge of our past election season. Did you see any of this coming?

Jane Pauley: Not at all. Sometimes I feel like an ambassador from the 20th century. For me, everything changed when they started putting that crawl beneath the anchor, as if to say: 'Pay no attention to the man on the screen! Ignore him and read this instead.' I’m still quavering over that, and it was a generation ago.

Speaking to 'The Hollywood Reporter', Jane Pauley expressed, "The media doesn't lead cultural shift. We are actually in a way kind of way behind. If the media has caught on to the story, it means the culture is galloping way down the road and we’re catching up." Rand Morrison believed, "On some front here we are reflective of the larger culture ... We've been part of the story … We reflect the larger culture, what's going on in the larger culture. We're a microcosm of the larger culture. So we cover it but sometimes we also reflective of what's going on in the larger world."

Jane Pauley maintained, "There is no 'we' in the media. We are one entity at CBS News, that is in competition with all the other television networks, cable, entities that you can think of. So to say 'the media' as if it was some monolith, as if we all get together and decide, how or what our take on this is going to be, we, inevitably, there is a bit of a herd mentality, as there is in any corporate, you know, business. But nonetheless there isn't 'the media'. But that said all of us humans in the media are looking up and seeing what's going on, not anticipating it."

On reflection, "You know the Baby Boomers - of which I am one - arrived on the scene in the work world just as I was leaving college and, boom, women in the labor force - generation before, that was not the norm. But we all left college taking certain things for granted. Maybe things we shouldn't have taken for granted. But in television, you know, I was, not just because I was extraordinarily, ridiculously young and inexperience, I was offered first. I was the first of the youngest and often, you know, the only female on the set, or in the room, the meeting, whatever.

"I recognize fairly young I was going to have opportunities that most women who came before me would not have and did not take that for granted. You know, young women are probably more cognizant of the possibilities that they might have. So a young woman today (in 2018) might truly be inspired by countless examples of, you know, men or women, who, you know, 'I hope I can do that', 'I like to do that', 'How could I do that?' So the idea of being inspired has more currency now than it might of have had for me when things were just unfolding."

Speaking to 'The Los Angeles Times', Jane Pauley acknowledged, "Everything that happened (being a trailblazing woman) seemed like a magic carpet to me. I didn't make it happen." As Jane told Meredith Blake, for a long time, "I only talked about my 'job.' I didn't have a 'career'. I aged into the confidence: You've had a career all along, you should respect it more. Maybe you didn't make it happen, but you made it last."

In 2016, Jane Pauley became only the third anchor in the history of the 'Sunday Morning' program. The Sunday breakfast TV institution, first went on air in January of 1979, was the most wide-ranging news program on American culture. Jane Pauley reasoned, "The audience sometimes is ahead of things. America doesn't need there to be a guy to be comfortable. As a matter of fact, particularly in the morning, women are comfortable with women. So it shouldn't come as a big shock." The TV newsmagazine was watched by some 6 million viewers each week.

'The Los Angeles Times' observed, "Jane Pauley was 65 when she started the job. 'Hello!? That's unprecedented.' She's made few attempts to tamper with the 'CBS Sunday Morning' formula. But she has left her mark." David Rhodes of CBS News remarked, "She was already a familiar figure to America. She's someone who had done this before. For the audience, there's instant recognition and instant comfort, and a lot of 'Sunday Morning' is about comfort."

20180831

SUPER-FRIENDS

The forgotten underseas world of Oceania, sister city to Atlantis, was first introduced to viewers in 1977 on the 'Super-Friends' episode titled, 'Super-Friends vs. Super-Friends'. Oceania was located under the depth of the ocean within a mountain. The city was ruled by the mighty emperor Tyrannic who ordered fish-men, Bogan and Nerak to find surface-dweller warriors to do battle in their gladiatorial games, with the winner to take on the giant two-headed monster called Serpentine. 

In one scene, the sire roared, "Bogan, the people are growing bored with the game. Time to remain in supreme power. They must be constantly entertained." Using an invisible muscle control ray machine, the Super-Friends were captured and forced to participate in the battle of the century. However during the battle Serpentine flooded the city of Oceania and ruined the colosseum. The citizens of Oceania eventually banished emperor Tyrannic from the underseas world. 

Outside the ruined colosseum, Batman told the fish-men, "It's only taken one weak man to weaken an entire society." Wonder Woman added, "And when people devote all of their attenion to destructive games, it's not long before society itself is the target of their destruction." Superman reminded, "So went the fall of Ancient Rome." Bogan vowed, "We shall never rebuild our colosseum." Nerak nodded, "Instead we will let it remind us of the evil ruler who gives us monsters and games instead of freedom."  

In November 2004, US researcher Robert Sarmast told 'Reuters' he had "circumstantial and other evidence" to show the lost civilization of Atlantis still exist 50 miles off the south-eastern coast of Cyprus, some 1,500 meters below sea level. As reported, "Plato said Atlantis was an island nation where an advanced civilization developed 11,500 years ago. Theories abound as to why it disappeared. 

"Some say Atlantis was hit by a cataclysmic natural disaster, but according to Greek mythology the civilization was so corrupted by greed and power that it was destroyed by God. Sceptics believe Atlantis was a figment of Plato's imagination. Mr Sarmast says he was led to Cyprus by clues in Plato's dialogues. Plato's reference to Atlantis lying opposite the Pillars of Hercules, which are believed to be the Straits of Gibraltar, have led explorers to focus on either the Atlantic Ocean, Ireland or the Azores off Portugal." 

In February 2018, Benjamin Radford of 'Live Science' shared with followers, "Though today Atlantis is often conceived of as a peaceful utopia, the Atlantis that Plato described in his fable was very different. In his book 'Encyclopedia of Dubious Archaeology', professor of archaeology Ken Feder notes that in Plato's story, 'Atlantis is not a place to be honored or emulated at all. Atlantis is not the perfect society ... Quite the contrary, Atlantis is the embodiment of a materially wealthy, technologically advanced, and militarily powerful nation that has become corrupted by its wealth, sophistication, and might.'"

Benjamin Radford continued, "As propaganda in Plato's morality tale, the Atlantis legend is more about the city's heroic rival Athens than a sunken civilization; if Atlantis really existed today and was found intact and inhabited, its residents would probably try to kill and enslave us all. It's clear that Plato made up Atlantis as a plot device for his stories, because there no other records of it anywhere else in the world. There are many extant Greek texts; surely someone else would have also mentioned, at least in passing, such a remarkable place. There is simply no evidence from any source that the legends about Atlantis existed before Plato wrote about it."

Roger Highfield of the 'UK Telegraph' reported in 2003, "First described by Plato in 360 BC, many have written off the story as a moralistic tale, a utopia that was located in the mind of the Greek philosopher who used the demise of Atlantis as an allegory of how the best laid plans of mortals can go wrong. But many have taken the lost world seriously. It inspired Jules Verne and Walt Disney, even Adolf Hitler. 

"Plato said the island kingdom was larger than Libya and Asia put together. It was paradise: peaceful, cultured and unspoilt. A golden age continued for centuries, but eventually corruption got the better of its inhabitants and the gods punished them by submerging Atlantis. Renowned geologist, Professor Jacques Collina-Girard believes that generations of Atlantis obsessives overlooked the most obvious location: Plato's account suggests Atlantis lay before the Pillars of Hercules - today's Strait of Gibraltar.

"The professor came to this conclusion after studying the patterns of human migration from Europe into North Africa at the height of the last Ice Age, 19,000 years ago. To see if Stone Age people could have crossed the strait, he made a map of what the coastline looked like at that time, when the sea level was 420ft lower than today. This revealed an ancient archipelago with an island 'in front of the Pillars of Hercules.'

"This island is now a shoal, called Spartel or Majuan Bank, which lies to the west of the strait, also as Plato described. When he first outlined his idea two years ago (in 2001) in Comptes Rendus de l'Academie des Sciences, Professor Collina-Girard suggested that the archipelago provided stepping stones for early sailors to cross between Europe and North Africa until around 11,000 years ago.

"Then sea level rises accelerated to more than 6ft per century, according to records from coral reefs, swamping the island. This fits the timing of the demise of the science-fiction-style superstate in Plato's Timaeus and Critias dialogues. The story is told by Critias who said he heard it from his grandfather, who had heard it from Solon, his great-grandfather's contemporary, who in turn heard it from Egyptian priests, who were describing events that had occurred 9,000 years earlier - 11,000 years before the present day.

"Plato suggests Atlantis is huge, whereas Professor Collina-Girard's candidate is nine miles by three wide. However, the professor argues that distances in Greek geography were usually approximate. The legend - and size - of Atlantis likely grew as storytellers embellished it as it was passed down to Plato. Plato also reports that volcanic activity sank Atlantis, when the strait is not in a volcanic area. Perhaps this was more plausible than a change in sea level, said Professor Collina-Girard. As for an advanced Atlantean civilization, the professor points to Plato's own admission that he grafted these details on to the tale to promote his own ideas about a utopian society."

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