Institutional 2017

Institutional Award: 60 Minutes

CBS News 60 Minutes

When 60 Minutes first aired in 1968 as a “magazine for television”—featuring co-hosts Mike Wallace and Harry Reasoner—it was met with inattention from critics, indifference from audiences, and skepticism from journalists. One prominent national newspaper editor dismissed the show as “entertainment, not journalism.”

Fifty years later, when the ticking of that Aristo stopwatch pops up on millions of American television screens every Sunday night, it signals that serious journalism is about to be committed, and it may be entertaining as well. 60 Minutes has become nothing less than a touchstone in American life, championing the “little guy” in struggles against corrupt politicians, unscrupulous corporations, and uncaring, inaccessible institutions. With regularity, 60 Minutes pursues investigations that lead to legal action, catalyze social change, and illuminate dark government secrets.

The longest continuously running program in American network prime time, it is also, by many measures, the most successful evening program in the history of television.

The winner of 23 previous Peabody Awards (not including yet another one this year), 60 Minutes consistently delivers hard-hitting, exclusive, thoroughly reported stories that help the American citizenry better understand phenomena as varied as Watergate, Abu Ghraib, symphonic orchestras in the Congo, cocaine smuggling by the CIA, and Stormy Daniels.

While the format created by Don Hewitt remains familiar, 60 Minutes has demonstrated a remarkable ability over five decades to maintain its relevance, reach, and reliability. Just this year, for example, the Peabody Board of Jurors gave serious consideration in late rounds of deliberation to at least six different 60 Minutes stories that aired in 2017.

This year’s winner, “The Whistleblower,” was a joint project with The Washington Post that revealed the remarkable influence of Big Pharma to block our government’s ability to pursue remedies to the national opioid crisis at the corporate level. But the show’s 2017 offerings also presented groundbreaking pieces on such wide-ranging topics as famine in the South Sudan, a friendly fire coverup in the Afghan War, a heartrending tale of deported Mexican restaurant proprietor in Ohio, the inspiring tale of Chobani Yogurt’s Kurdish immigrant founder, and the shocking tale of a wrongly imprisoned Guantanamo terrorist “suspect.”

As much as any television news show ever, 60 Minutes has showcased a stable of journalistic personalities who have become household names and faces as familiar to many Americans as members of their own families—Reasoner and Wallace. Ed Bradley, Morley Safer, Andy Rooney, Bob Simon, Lesley Stahl, Lara Logan, Steve Kroft, Christiane Amanpour, Anderson Cooper, Bill Whitaker. All celebrity journalists of high standing.

Inside the industry, an equally regarded cadre of producers, writers, editors, and videographers report and construct these difficult stories at the highest levels of journalistic and technical skill.

All these people join together to bring America distinguished journalism week after week, year after year. That is why, after half a century, 60 Minutes continues to stand tall among our nation’s most enduring media institutions. We are pleased to present 60 Minutes with an Institutional Peabody Award.