January 8, 2016

1950. CBS News Touts Its Well-Informed Reporters

"News Gathering in the Atomic Age"
A magazine advertisement for CBS Radio Network in the 1950s
August 18, 1950


By Edmund Chester
Director of CBS News

In the past ten years, a new era has developed in the handling of news by radio.

Ten years ago, it was a common thing to present a strip of five 15-minute news programs a week with but one man doing the job. Today, at CBS News at least, the average number of men required to do what we think is a good job is three. Radio news reporting has become a team operation. This change came about slowly, so slowly that we were somewhat unaware of it until it had already happened.

The last war was the beginning of the end of that fairly easy way of handling news broadcasts. Reporters who served as war correspondents began to acquire deep knowledge of affairs of other nations. The jigsaw puzzle began to take shape. Along with this general awakening came understanding by the listeners. The more they heard, the more they wanted to hear and understand.

Soon, fly-by-night reporter-broadcasters who tried to get by with only a sketchy knowledge of world subjects began to fall by the wayside. Their places were taken by men who understand they had to be accurate, fair, and above all, clear in their radio broadcasts.

It was at this point that the long-range hiring policies of CBS News began to pay off. CBS News hired as a rule men who could more accurately be called reporter-analysts. They were men who not only knew how to gather news, but how to interpret it without fear or bias. And it became apparent immediately that if these men were to have the time to think carefully about developments all over the world, they would have to have editorial assistants—research, wire copy handlers, even a secretary or two to answer fan mail intelligently; the old form letter reply was not enough.

So, today, listeners to CBS News hear material which has been carefully prepared. It is material sieved not through just one mind but several in order to get all its meanings. Where a long time ago a newscaster wrote his budget of news and went on the air virtually all by himself, it is a common sight now at CBS to see several editorial conferences going on at once, each attended by from three to eight writers, editors and researchers, the news team which produces the end product, the news broadcast.

It is fortunate that television news is growing up in this radio atmosphere. The complications in TV as compared to radio are far greater, but a comparison between CBS-TV news programs of today and radio programs of ten years ago show clearly that the reporter-analyst approach has been applied successfully to TV, where it was not present at all in the radio of yesterday. Radio news reporting today is a worldwide operation, and those who report it must have all the facts and the ability to interpret them clearly and intelligently.