NEW YORK - In an upset at the News & Documentary Emmy Awards Monday, CBS and NBC edged out usual frontrunner PBS.
CBS News picked up seven honors, ahead of six for NBC News and five for PBS. Cable news networks were shut out with the exception of CNBC, which won a single prize.
Afghanistan and economic stories were represented prominently among winners. For example, the honor for best story in a regularly scheduled newscast went to "CBS Evening News With Katie Couric" for an Afghanistan report, and CBS' "60 Minutes" picked up the best news magazine award for a piece on unemployment in a small town in Ohio.
In one of the night's upsets, HDNet beat three "60 Minutes" nominees and a PBS "Bill Moyers Journal" report with a World Cup-related report on modern-day slavery in South Africa.
"60 Minutes" also won awards for best interview (with airline pilot Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger about his landing in the Hudson river); continuing coverage of a news story in a newsmagazine (where one of its Afghanistan reports bested a CBS "48 Hours Mystery" report whose nominees included David Letterman extortionist Joe Halderman); and a promo.
One underlying theme was the state of the TV news industry as speakers repeatedly put the spotlight on staff and budget cuts that have swept the news industry in recent years.
Former CBS anchor Dan Rather, who won an award for a piece on "Iran's Manhattan Project" for HDNet, told the Hollywood Reporter backstage that the cuts are unlikely to be reversed.
"The old model for journalism is over," he said. But since a new model isn't established yet, the industry is in an interregnum. "We must preserve the iron core" of digging deep, so that once the current crisis is over, "we'll have enough of it left."
He emphasized the importance of investigative stories, international and on-scene reports, which are at particular risk amid reduced resources.
David Fanning, executive producer of PBS flagship "Frontline," hoped things would improve thanks in part to new technology. "You can produce smart, complex (news) for relatively little," Fanning said. "There is a future."
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