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Pioneering newsman Joseph Wershba dies at 90

Pioneering newsman Joseph Wershba dies at 90

Joseph Wershba, a CBS News producer and reporter whose work helped to end a powerful U.S. senator's 1950s communist witch hunt and inspired the film "Good Night and Good Luck," has died. He was 90.
Wershba died Saturday of complications from pneumonia on Long Island, New York, where he lived, CBS announced in a statement.
"Joe Wershba was a wonderful man who was a pioneer of broadcast journalism, without the notoriety of his more celebrated colleagues Ed Murrow and Don Hewitt," said Jeff Fager, chairman of CBS News.
Wershba worked on a pivotal 1954 report on Senator Joseph McCarthy for Edward R. Murrow's TV news show "See It Now." Robert Downey Jr. played the role of Wershba in the 2005 Oscar-nominated film, which was about the CBS News team's joust with the powerful Wisconsin senator.
McCarthy had accused entertainers and others of links to communism, accusations which at the time ruined careers. Public opinion later turned against McCarthy, who was censured in the Senate and lost much of his power before dying just a few years later.
Wershba joined CBS News in 1944 as a radio news writer. Four years later, he was sent to CBS' Washington bureau as a radio correspondent, where he worked on the groundbreaking Murrow-Fred Friendly "Hear it Now" series, the radio precursor to "See it Now." While in Washington, he also worked on-air with Walter Cronkite in early television news at the network's local station.
Wershba was also the on-camera reporter and field producer for Murrow on the 1953 "The Milo Radulovich Story," which exposed the U.S. Air Force's move to discharge a reserve officer because of his family's indirect association with Communism.
From 1958 to 1964, Wershba was a columnist and feature writer for The New York Post.
Then he returned to CBS News, where he produced documentaries for "CBS Reports" and was chosen to be one of the original group of producers for the news show "60 Minutes," which premiered in 1968.
Wershba retired from CBS News in 1988 and, with his journalist wife, Shirley, ran a documentary production company.
He is survived by his wife of 63 years, whom he met on the overnight shift at CBS. Their subsequent marriage is depicted in "Good Night, and Good Luck," with Patricia Clarkson playing her character in the film.
He is also survived by a brother, Charles; a daughter, Randi; a son, Donald; and two granddaughters.


Updated : 2021-03-06 22:39 GMT+08:00