Robert G. Anderson

News Producer


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

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About
About this interview

In his three-hour Archive interview, Robert G. Anderson talks about his early life and his education at Columbia School of Journalism. He describes working for CBS News, where he covered the presidential campaign of John Anderson, and later became bureau chief in Tokyo. He recounts in detail his years as a producer for 60 Minutes, where he worked on several stories for reporter Mike Wallace, including a controversial report on Dr. Jack Kevorkian called “Death by Doctor,” and “Smoke but no Fire,” a story about smoking. Anderson outlines Mike Wallace’s legacy as a journalist, and his disappointment when CBS spiked Wallace’s story about the tobacco industry. He concludes by discussing his approach to writing, and the challenges of being a news producer. Karen Herman conducted the interview on October 15, 2013 in New York, NY.

"I’m just a lowly off-camera producer. My one claim to fame is quantity, having done more 60 Minutes pieces than anybody. But hopefully, thanks to others, there’s been some quality thrown in there, too."

People Talking About ...
Highlights
Robert G. Anderson on interviewing Indira Gandhi, who named the CIA as implicit in nefarious killings in India, and how no other news source was able to get the story
Robert G. Anderson on the legal implications of 60 Minutes' undercover stories
Robert G. Anderson on the 60 Minutes piece on Dr. Kevorkian and the issue of doctor-assisted suicide
Robert G. Anderson on reporting on a Japan Air plane crash
Robert G. Anderson on the 60 Minutes story "Catastrophe" about the tsunami in Japan in 2011 with correspondent Scott Pelley
Robert G. Anderson on the highlight of his career: working with Mike Wallace
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his childhood, his parents, and growing up in Chicago; on wanting to be a baseball sportscaster
On wanting to be a journalist like Walter Cronkite; on going to Columbia School of Journalism; on how he came to be a news producer; on working in local news
On moving to Philadelphia; on getting a break with CBS News in the Chicago bureau; on being assigned to cover a presidential campaign (for John Anderson)
On what he learned from working at the CBS Chicago news bureau
On how he became the Toyko bureau chief; on the challenges of adjusting to the culture and learning Japanese; on reporting on major news stories in Asia; on the cultural differences he experienced while covering news from Korea
On returning to the United States and the Washington Bureau; on covering the 1984 National Conventions for both parties; on becoming a producer for CBS Evening NEws
On one of his favorite assignments: returning to Asia with Bob Simon ten years after the Vietnam War

Chapter 2

On working with Dan Rather in Nicaragua; on being the CBS Foreign Editor; on how he got hired on 60 Minutes by Don Hewitt
On working  with his 60 Minutes colleagues Ed Bradley, Steve Kroft, and Mike Wallace; on specific stories he covered and his working process
On a 60 Minutes piece he did with Mike Wallace, "The Archbishop," which uncovered child molestation by a member of the clergy; on how a story is crafted, produced, shot, and edited for air
On the 60 Minutes piece on Dr. Kevorkian and the issue of doctor-assisted suicide

Chapter 3

On the 60 Minutes piece "Death by Doctor" about Dr. Kevorkian, and the response to it; on several controversial stories he worked on about the tobacco industry and the dangers of smoking
On interviewing the President of China for 60 Minutes; on working with Mike Wallace, and on his legacy; on the 60 Minutes stories "The Lost Commandos" and "Going Home"; on colleague Scott Pelley
On his approach to writing; on the challenges of being a news producer
On why he wants to continue working; on the power of television; on the highlight of his career
Shows

60 Minutes

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Robert G. Anderson on getting hired for 60 Minutes by Don Hewitt
Robert G. Anderson on Don Hewitt's vision for 60 Minutes
Robert G. Anderson on a profile he did about Jay Leno for 60 Minutes and Don Hewitt's guidance methods
Robert G. Anderson on a 60 Minutes story he did with Ed Bradley called "Stray Voltage," and how his approach differed from Mike Wallace and himself
Robert G. Anderson on the approval process a story would go through on 60 Minutes, and on "Cream Puff" - a story he did with Steve Kroft
Robert G. Anderson on the hidden camera work he did on 60 Minutes, and on the "Granbo" story and a hearing aid scam story
Robert G. Anderson on the legal implications of 60 Minutes' undercover stories
Robert G. Anderson on the 60 Minutes piece "The Archbishop" (Robert Sanchez) of New Mexico who was accused of molesting children, and on what Mike Wallace contributed to the story
Robert G. Anderson on the post-production involved on a 60 Minutes story, and on the difference between 60 Minutes and the Evening News
Robert G. Anderson on the editors at 60 Minutes
Robert G. Anderson on the 60 Minutes piece on Dr. Kevorkian and the issue of doctor-assisted suicide
Robert G. Anderson on the 60 Minutes piece "Death by Doctor" about Dr. Kevorkian, and the response to it
Robert G. Anderson on a 60 Minutes story he produced on smoking, "Smoke but no Fire"
Robert G. Anderson on Mike Wallace's disappointment in CBS not airing a 60 Minutes piece he worked on about the tobacco industry
Robert G. Anderson on Mike Wallace's interview with the then-President of China, Jiang Zemin, for 60 Minutes
Robert G. Anderson on the 60 Minutes story "The Lost Commandos"
Robert G. Anderson on the 60 Minutes story "Going Home"
Robert G. Anderson on the 60 Minutes story "Catastrophe" about the tsunami in Japan in 2011 with correspondent Scott Pelley
Topics

9/11

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Robert G. Anderson on his recollections of being on a plane on 9/11

First Big Break

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Robert G. Anderson on being rejected by television news stations as an on-air correspondent, and realizing he could be a producer

Historic Events and Social Change

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Robert G. Anderson on interviewing Indira Gandhi
Robert G. Anderson on his recollections of being on a plane on 9/11

Memorable Moments on Television

View Topic
Robert G. Anderson on the 60 Minutes piece on Dr. Kevorkian and the issue of doctor-assisted suicide
Robert G. Anderson on the 60 Minutes piece "The Archbishop" (Robert Sanchez) of New Mexico who was accused of molesting children
Robert G. Anderson on a 60 Minutes story he produced with Mike Wallace, "Smoke but no Fire" about the dangers of smoking

Pivotal Career Moments

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Robert G. Anderson on reporting on a Japan Air plane crash
Robert G. Anderson on being rejected by television news stations as an on-air correspondent, and realizing he could be a producer

Television Industry

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Robert G. Anderson on the power of television

Television and the Presidency

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Robert G. Anderson on what it was like to cover a presidential campaign (for John Anderson)

We Considered

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Robert G. Anderson on the 60 Minutes piece "The Archbishop" (Robert Sanchez) of New Mexico who was accused of molesting children
Robert G. Anderson on a 60 Minutes story he produced with Mike Wallace, "Smoke but no Fire" about the dangers of smoking
Professions

Journalists & News Producers

View Profession
Robert G. Anderson on what he learned in journalism school and what they failed to teach
Robert G. Anderson on the biggest challenges reporting the news in Asia, and on smuggling in equipment
Robert G. Anderson on how he was able to scoop a big story about Indira Gandhi by sharing sources with the AP
Robert G. Anderson on the cultural differences he experienced while covering news from Korea
Robert G. Anderson on being rejected by television news stations as an on-air correspondent, and realizing he could be a producer
Robert G. Anderson on what Mike Wallace brought to 60 Minutes, and on his reporting style and how it affected the stories he covered (specifically, on "The Archbishop" story)
Robert G. Anderson on the advice Dan Rather and others gave him about producing 60 Minutes (versus the Evening News): choose your main character carefully
Robert G. Anderson on the importance of post-production on a 60 Minutes piece, and on the difference between cutting for a documentary-style piece versus a news piece: "it has to work for the ear"
Robert G. Anderson on his approach to writing for the news
Robert G. Anderson on how news reporting has changed over the years
Robert G. Anderson on advice he would offer an aspiring news producer
Robert G. Anderson on the best part of being a producer: "it's a do-gooder business"
Robert G. Anderson on the challenges of being a news producer, and on handling the unexpected

News Producer

View Profession
Robert G. Anderson on being rejected by television news stations as an on-air correspondent, and realizing he could be a producer
Robert G. Anderson on the importance of post-production on a 60 Minutes piece, and on the difference between cutting for a documentary-style piece versus a news piece: "it has to work for the ear"
Robert G. Anderson on the challenges of being a news producer, and on handling the unexpected
Robert G. Anderson on the best part of being a producer: "it's a do-gooder business"
Genres

News and Documentary

View Genre
Robert G. Anderson on the legal implications of 60 Minutes' undercover stories
Robert G. Anderson on the post-production involved on a 60 Minutes story, and on the difference between 60 Minutes and the Evening News
Robert G. Anderson on how he views producing 60 Minutes like a football coach
Robert G. Anderson on how news reporting has changed over the years
People

Ed Bradley

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Robert G. Anderson on his 60 Minutes colleague Ed Bradley and his style
Robert G. Anderson on a 60 Minutes story he did with Ed Bradley called "Stray Voltage," and how his approach differed from Mike Wallace and himself

Indira Gandhi

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Robert G. Anderson on interviewing Indira Gandhi, who named the CIA as implicit in nefarious killings in India, and how no other news source was able to get the story 

Don Hewitt

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Robert G. Anderson on working with Don Hewitt on 60 Minutes, and on the guidance he provided and his vision for the series
Robert G. Anderson on a profile he did about Jay Leno for 60 Minutes and Don Hewitt's guidance in crafting the stories

Steve Kroft

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Robert G. Anderson on working with his 60 Minutes colleague Steve Kroft

Ferdinand Marcos

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Robert G. Anderson on interviewing President Ferdinand Marcos and his wife Imelda

Scott Pelley

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Robert G. Anderson on his 60 Minutes colleague, correspondent Scott Pelley

Dan Rather

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Robert G. Anderson on the advice Dan Rather gave him about producing 60 Minutes (versus the Evening News): choose your main character carefully

Mike Wallace

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Robert G. Anderson on working with his 60 Minutes colleague Mike Wallace
Robert G. Anderson on what Mike Wallace brought to 60 Minutes, and on his reporting style and how it affected the stories he covered (specifically, on "The Archbishop" story)
Robert G. Anderson on Mike Wallace's disappointment in CBS not airing a 60 Minutes piece he worked on about the tobacco industry
Robert G. Anderson on Mike Wallace's legacy as a journalist and reporter

Jiang Zemin

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Robert G. Anderson on Mike Wallace's 60 Minutes interview with the then-President of China, Jiang Zemin

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