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. Notable episodes include "Harvest of Shame", a Peabody Award-winning examination of migrant workers in the United States, and "CBS Reports: The Homosexuals", the first time homosexuality was presented on a national network broadcast. "The Homosexuals" has been heavily criticized for promoting a negative view of gay Americans.
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.
A portion of the traditional American religious song Simple Gifts (specifically, in the early years of the series, as adapted by American classical composer Aaron Copland for his ballet Appalachian Spring) is used as the CBS Reports theme music.
CBS Reports premiered on October 27, 1959. 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. For the remainder of 1959 and through 1960, CBS Reports was broadcast on an irregular basis as a series of specials.
The network gave CBS Reports a regular primetime slot in January 1961, at 10 p.m. (EST) on Thursdays. That placed it against two "tremendously popular" established shows, The Untouchables on ABC and Sing Along With Mitch on NBC. Consequently, CBS Reports was pre-empted by a high number of CBS affiliates that aired local programming in its timeslot.
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." But that move again put the program up against two "consistent rating leaders," The Virginian on NBC and Wagon Train on ABC.
CBS Reports continued to lead the network's Wednesday primetime line-up until Fall 1965, when the network put 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.
- Brooks, Tim & Marsh, Earle. (1979). The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows 1946–Present. Ballantine Books, p. 95.
- Harding, Henry. (1962, April 28-May 4). For The Record. TV Guide, New York State Edition, p. 14-1.
- Brooks, Tim & Marsh, Earle. (1979). The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows 1946–Present. Ballantine Books, pp 738-745.