Eyewitness News

The first eyewitness news program began at KYW-TV in Cleveland, Ohio in 1959. Although this program was called Eyewitness News, it still followed the traditional news format (a news anchor reading the news while looking into a studio camera), until Al Primo became the news director in the early 1960s. Primo, a former anchorman, decided that instead of the typical news format, his news station would rely primarily on visuals, especially film and videotape.

Soon, the new format had spread to more than 200 local television stations across the country, and in 1965 KYW moved from Cleveland to Philadelphia, where Primo formed the first on-camera reporting team. Now, in addition to news anchors, reporters could be seen onscreen.

As the eyewitness format grew in popularity, more developments occurred all over the US. WLS in Chicago began using co-anchors who would chat on air about the news stories, a new style which was known as “happy talk.” At WABC in New York, field reporters appeared on-camera to discuss the stories about which they were reporting.

Eventually eyewitness news became so standard and so popular with the masses that now it is often referred to as “people’s news.” These days, virtually all local television and network stations in the U.S. use some form of eyewitness news, and many countries in Europe and Latin America also use similar news reporting styles.