Newsmagazines were television's most successful genre in the 1990s, consistently attracting the younger audiences, 18-to-49-year-olds. '60 Minutes' invented the genre back in 1968. Its success meant journalism and the public it intended to serve, would have another mark on the credit side of the ledger. One news producer made the point, "News changes every day, and each day is a great game." The tried-and-true format of all newsmagazine shows were: 4 major stories for each telecast (of which 3 were usually feature-length stories, (1) either consumer-oriented or human-interest, (2) hard-news or investigative, (3) personality piece or celebrity profile and the last short segment often called "bright" normally covered trends ("social and cultural landscape"). 

Andrew Lack of NBC News had said in 1994, "We've been exploring the idea of engaging viewers with news and information in ways that never existed before, and they're responding in ways that we, as programmers, never believed they would." Neal Shapiro of 'Dateline NBC' expressed, "My philosophy is that it's not that interesting to do TV shows on TV stars, unless they've become so big that even a news-minded person who doesn't watch a lot of TV would still have heard a lot about this person or this show and would want to know more." Rick Kaplan of 'PrimeTime Live' remarked, "We think if we do one amazing piece a week, viewers will stick around and see what else we have to offer. The stories are people-oriented, topical news that is easily recognizable to all age groups." 

Andrew Heyward of '48 Hours' made the observation, "I think these shows fit the pattern of the way people now (in 1992) watch television. People are busier. They work harder and longer. They can't sit in front of the set every week. We have an advantage because on a news show you can get the full measure every week, even if you haven't watched in a month. You missed nothing with any character as you would in a drama show." '60 Minutes II' was created in 1999 because Jonathan Towers believed, "Long-form non-fiction is experiencing a renaissance. CBS News wants to get as much out of that rebirth, that change in the media landscape, as it can." 

Neal maintained, "I think I have a good sense of what makes a good story. Even when I'm walking down the street, if I see something I ask myself if that's a trend or something we should be covering. We've shown that the public is willing to watch hard news as well. The exciting thing about television is that it's still a new industry." However unlike print, "the medium is unique." Andrew Lack added, "I don't think the audience responds to the look and the packaging (set, music, graphics). If that were really true, then '60 Minutes' would have failed years ago." Catherine Lasiewicz of 'Street Stories' described the program which went on air in 1992 as "a hybrid" of '60 Minutes' and '48 Hours' in that "the pieces are more magazine-like, with a beginning, a middle and an end...about everyday people, not trends." 

Insisting "there is an audience for a better class of current affairs", Jana Wendt, "the next best thing to royalty in Australian television", turned down an offer to present the Australian 'Nightline' program a week before Christmas 1995 to front the 'Witness' program in 1996. Jana made known, "Both foreign and local stories have a part in current affairs." 'Witness' was said "has become the TV industry's most intense talking point." The program's producer Peter Manning recalled, "Jana and (producer) Gareth Harvey went to Israel for a story on the Israeli bombing of Lebanon, on the understanding that the item be 13 minutes long. They insisted it be 20 minutes. Jana had done an excellent job, but in my view it should not have run the length they insisted it did. That is a classic role of an executive producer - to make a cooler judgment back home with the local audience in mind, to a reporter and producer in the field...My view was that the story was, after 15 minutes, too boring and it had a big audience turn-off."

Jana remembered, "We were going into Lebanon when there was friction between Lebanon and Israel, and it was an extremely dangerous situation. We discussed at length the pros and cons of doing such a story, sending a crew into such a dangerous spot. As it happened, we were one of 2 crews at the Cana United Nations base in Lebanon when it was bombed and about 100 people were killed, a most remarkable event to cover. I had secured interviews with senior people in the Israeli and Lebanese governments. Having gone through this experience I was told it was to run 10 minutes. Having been asked to get every possible facet of the story and then to be told it was 10 minutes was rather a blow." 

By 2006, the acting dean of the University of Oklahoma's journalism school told Associated Press newsmagazines had "morphed into something that is farther away from news and much closer to entertainment. They're a long way from their roots." Susan Zirinsky of '48 Hours' reasoned, "I think the audience feels that the real-life drama that was the bread-and-butter of magazine shows was supplanted by the artificial reality of reality television." Reporter Chris Hansen acknowledged, "The challenge for us is also to make it journalistically solid."

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