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That's The Way It Was

To our slight surprise, we've discovered that Public Eye isn't the first time CBS has made an attempt at transparency. In a stroke of good fortune, this video was given to us by a longtime employee of CBS News — one of the few who probably remembered it existed. It's a 30-minute look inside the network that seeks to raise the curtain a bit and give a peek at how the news division operates.

Produced for affiliates in 1978, the production is one-part promotional and two-parts educational. Narrated by the late Charles Kuralt, one of the project's goals is, in his words, to show us "how things have changed" since he joined the network in the late 1950s. Looking at this video now reminds us how dramatically things have changed since 1978 — and how some things never do.

The most unmistakable change is technology. Forget BlackBerries, IM and text messaging, even the basic tools that drive the news business today — computers, e-mail, the Internet and cell phones — were unimaginable in 1978. So how did they do it? They did it the old fashioned way — with typewriters, paperwork, teletypes, bulky old phones and lots of crossed fingers.

Looking back, it's a reminder of how much manpower was needed for what we consider today to be the most basic of tasks. Being told that CBS once employed a force of 25 researchers to cull through hand-written logs and primitive databases is enough to make us appreciate the fingertip conveniences we all rely on today. It's another reminder of the instant world we live in and the never-ending news cycle.

Kuralt proudly boasts of CBS' growth in 1978, noting that at the time CBS News had some 40 correspondents in six bureaus in the United States. Likewise, it's changed since then, with nearly 80 correspondents, eight domestic bureaus (nine including the de facto New Orleans addition) and 11 more around the globe. And while many of the programs and specials highlighted in this video have fallen by the wayside, the news division continues to pump out product both on CBS and for other outlets (the work of CBS News productions can be seen places like the History Channel, A&E, Biography, CourtTV and even ESPN Classic).

Some things, however, never change. The same basic process of putting together a news broadcast remains the same, including the last-minute adjustments and crashing on late-breaking developments. While White House correspondents are no longer surrounded by an audience of tourists for their stand-ups (as is the case in this video), they perform the same duties, in the same place. There remains a legion of unseen faces contributing to each and every broadcast behind the scenes.

And you'll see many of the same faces that appear on CBS News broadcasts today, from Lesley Stahl and Bob Schieffer to Ed Bradley. They haven't changed. Well, maybe they've changed a little.

We felt this was an appropriate video to share with you during our first week, both because it provides a glimpse of some of the behind-the-curtain scenes we hope to provide and, perhaps more importantly, because it's just plain good.