RIP, Don Hewitt

This CBS obituary describes the "60 Minutes" creator as a "TV news giant"--a characterization which, it seems, is completely hyperbole-free. 

Like his colleague Walter Cronkite, Hewitt had a key role in TV's coverage of a seemingly endless array of historic events. But he also played a pivotal part in creating the genre of TV news itself:

Hewitt...directed the first network television newscast, featuring Douglas Edwards, on May 3, 1948. He was the executive producer of the first half-hour network newscast when the CBS Evening News With Walter Cronkite became the first to go to a 30-minute format on Sept. 2, 1963. Among Hewitt's innovations was the use of cue cards for newsreaders, the electronic version of which, the TelePrompTer, is still used today. He was the first to use "supers" - putting type in the lower third of the television screen. Another invention of Hewitt's was the film "double" - cutting back and forth between two projectors - an editing breakthrough that re-shaped television news. Hewitt also helped develop the positioning of cameras and reporters still used to cover news events, especially political conventions.

If you've seen the film "The Insider," which dramatizes CBS's spiking of a damning "Sixty Minutes" interview with tobacco exec Jeffrey Wigand, you'll remember that Hewitt (who apparently identified that episode as the show's nadir) was painted as a timid patsy for management. But as this obit makes clear, his legacy was much, much bigger. 

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