What does the death of veteran 60 Minutes reporter Mike Wallace at 93 tell us about the way we like our news? The justifiable tributes have been flowing in thick and fast. What’s noteworthy is what he is being remembered for.
CBS in its own tribute to Wallace said he “took to heart the old reporter’s pledge to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. He (Wallace) characterized himself as “nosey and insistent.” CBS then lists proudly the 20th century icons that “…submitted to a Mike Wallace interview. He lectured Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia, on corruption. He lectured Yassir Arafat on violence and asked the Ayatollah Khoumeini if he were crazy.”
The complaint du jour of journalism, particularly broadcast journalism is that that it has lost the art of professional objectivity. Journalists nowadays always have an angle, so goes the refrain from both the media establishment and opinion formers, and crusading journalism that starts with a point of view isn’t that way we want our news. CBS and Wallace however proved that that isn’t always true.
The PR Verdict: “A” for an impressive career that helped define broadcast journalism. In looking back over interview footage it’s clear that ‘nosey and insistent journalism” was always in vogue.
The material CBS chose in compiling Wallace’s interview highlights makes for fascinating viewing. Confronting, insistent questioning and getting a rise out of the interviewee seem to be the hallmark of success for both Wallace and his producers at CBS. The truth may be that we don’t mind opinionated and righteous journalism after all.
To see the compilation of Mike Wallace’s greatest interviews from CBS click here.
What’s your PR Verdict on the interviews?