CBS Reports Information

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CBS Reports is the umbrella title used for documentaries by CBS News which aired starting in 1959 through the 1990s. The series sometimes aired as a wheel series rotating with 60 Minutes (or other similar CBS News series), as a series of its own, or as specials. The program aired as a constant series from 1959 to 1971.


CBS Reports premiered on October 27, 1959. [1] It was intended to be a successor to Edward R. Murrow's influential See It Now, which had ended 15 months prior, and employed several members of the See It Now production staff. [1] For the remainder of 1959 and through 1960, CBS Reports was broadcast on an irregular basis as a series of specials. [1]

The network gave CBS Reports a regular primetime slot in January 1961, at 10 p.m. (EST) on Thursdays. [1] That placed it against two "tremendously popular" established shows, The Untouchables on ABC and Sing Along With Mitch on NBC. [2] Consequently, CBS Reports was pre-empted by a high number of CBS affiliates that aired local programming in its timeslot. [2]

When the networks announced their Fall 1962 schedules, Sing Along With Mitch and The Untouchables had been moved from the Thursday 10 p.m. timeslot. However, CBS also decided to move CBS Reports to Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. (EST), explaining that "the earlier hour will permit more young people to watch the program." [2] But that move again put the program up against two "consistent rating leaders," The Virginian on NBC and Wagon Train on ABC. [2]

CBS Reports continued to lead the network's Wednesday primetime line-up until Fall 1965, when the network placed Lost In Space in the 7:30 p.m. Wednesday timeslot and moved CBS Reports to Tuesday at 10 p.m., opposite The Fugitive on ABC and NBC's Tuesday Night at the Movies. [3]


The CBS Reports banner was brought back into use in 2009, with the series CBS Reports: Children of the Recession. Instead of being a stand-alone documentary, the new incarnation consisted of reports across all CBS News platforms. Katie Couric led coverage. The series of reports won the a Columbia School of Journalism Alfred DuPont Award. In January 2010, a second Couric-led series aired, CBS Reports: Where America Stands.

Notable episodes

CBS Reports received a Peabody Award in 1960 for the episode " Harvest of Shame", which examined the lives of migrant workers in the United States. [4] CBS Reports also received Peabody Awards for Storm Over the Supreme Court, KKK - The Invisible Empire, The Poisoned Air, Hunger in America, The Battle for South Africa, The Boston Goes to China, The Vanishing Family - Crisis in Black America, D-Day, and for Roger Mudd's interview with Ted Kennedy. [5]

1961's Biography of a Bookie Joint, which documented an illegal bookmaking establishment in Boston, was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Program of the Year. [6] Boston Police Commissioner Leo J. Sullivan was forced to resign after the episode, which showed members of his department visiting the gambling establishment. [7]

CBS Reports: The Homosexuals, which aired in 1967, was the first time homosexuality was presented on a national network broadcast. [8] "The Homosexuals" was praised for debunking negative stereotypes, but also condemned for generalizations and promoting other stereotypes. [9] [10] LGBT activist Wayne Besen called "The Homosexuals" "the single most destructive hour of antigay propaganda in our nation's history." [11] Gay Power, Gay Politics, which aired in 1980, was also criticized for unfairly misrepresenting a number of sexual issues, reinforcing stereotypes, and making homosexuals appear as threats to public decency. [12] CBS later apologized for manipulating the soundtrack of a speech made by San Francisco Mayor Dianne Feinstein [13] the first time that the LGBT community had received an apology from a major news organization. [12]

In 1982, General William Westmoreland sued George Crile III, Mike Wallace, and CBS for libel after the network aired The Uncounted Enemy, which contended that Westmoreland had manipulated intelligence reports about enemy strength in order to create the impression of progress. [14] Westmoreland dropped his lawsuit, Westmoreland v. CBS, however CBS lost its libel insurance over the case. [15]


  1. ^ a b c d Brooks, Tim & Marsh, Earle. (1979). The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows 1946–Present. Ballantine Books, p. 95.
  2. ^ a b c d Harding, Henry. (1962, April 28-May 4). For The Record. TV Guide, New York State Edition, p. 14-1.
  3. ^ Brooks, Tim & Marsh, Earle. (1979). The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows 1946–Present. Ballantine Books, pp 738-745.
  4. ^ Peabody Awards - CBS Reports, The Harvest of Shame (CBS)
  5. ^*&pb_year=1&pb_search=1&submit=Search+Now List of Peabody Award winners (1990-1999) from
  6. ^ Archived 2018-03-18 at the Wayback Machine – list of Nominees & Winners
  7. ^ Wysocki, Ronald (March 16, 1962). "Bonner Delivers Sullivan's Letter". The Boston Globe.
  8. ^ Castañeda, Laura, and Campbell, Shannon B. (2005). News and Sexuality: Media Portraits of Diversity. SAGE.
  9. ^ Johnson, Phylis, and Keith, Michael C. (2001). Queer Airwaves: The Story of Gay and Lesbian Broadcasting. M. E. Sharpe
  10. ^ Tropiano, Stephen (2002). The Prime Time Closet: A History of Gays and Lesbians on TV. Hal Leonard Corporation
  11. ^ Besen, p. 1 Besen, Wayne R. (2003). Anything But Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-gay Myth. Haworth Press
  12. ^ a b Alwood, Edward (1998). Straight News. Columbia University Press
  13. ^ Harris, Harry (1980-12-01). "Media Bites Back: It's not all applause for watchdog agency". St. Petersburg Independent. Knight-Ridder. p. 12-B. Retrieved 2008-12-01.
  14. ^ Christianson, Stephen G (1994). Great American Trials. Detroit, MI: Visible Ink Press. pp.  738–740. ISBN  0-8103-9134-1.
  15. ^ Tom Mascaro. "Uncounted Enemy, The". The Encyclopedia of Television. The Museum of Broadcast Communications. Archived from the original on 2002-06-20. Retrieved 2007-11-14.