Joe and Shirley in China
An intrepid reporter who began his career in radio, Joseph Wershba was a journalistic pioneer. Serving as producer, writer, editor and correspondent for CBS News beginning in 1944, he served the network for 35 years. In 1951 he helped initiate the revolutionary television magazine, See it Now with Edward R Murrow and Fred Friendly, a program that is today considered the standard by which broadcast journalism is judged for its courage and commitment. During a hiatus from CBS, Mr. Wershba freelanced and wrote for the New York Post, during which time he filed a story on Lee Harvey Oswald that resulted in a Pulitzer Prize nomination. In 1964 Mr. Wershba returned to CBS as a producer for the documentary series CBS Reports. In 1968 he was invited to become part of the original team that launched another ground breaking television news program, 60 Minutes where he remained for 20 years until his retirement. It was during this time that he won two Emmy's, a Peabody Award and was honored by the American Bar Association. In 1985, Brooklyn College, his alma mater, named Mr. Wershba an Honored Alumnus during graduation ceremonies.
Since his retirement Mr. Wershba has worked on film documentaries in the United States and Asia. He contributed to Walter Cronkite's memoirs and in 1994, he was awarded the prestigious Silurian Award for lifetime achievement in journalism. In 2005 Joseph Wershba was portrayed by Robert Downey Jr. in the movie, Good Night and Good Luck.
Shirley Wershba got her start in the CBS mailroom and soon found her way to the newsroom as a radio newswriter and reporter. She and Joe met on the overnight shift, but when they decided to get married, they had to keep it secret because of network anti-nepotism rules.
In 1965 after time out to raise a daughter and son, her focus returned to radio where she helped develop one of the first radio shows devoted to women’s issues, Dimension of a Woman’s World.
She subsequently moved to television news where she contributed to CBS News, ABC Evening News with Peter Jennings and as producer-writer on the Morning News for CBS. In 1975, she was one of three original producers of the MacNeil/Lehrer Report on PBS. She returned to CBS Were she wound up her broadcast career as a producer for 60 Minutes. In 1983 she was nominated for an Emmy for producing Diane Sawyer’s Morning News interview with Richard Nixon.
In 2005 Shirley Wershba was portrayed by Patricia Clarkson in the movie, Good Night, and Good Luck.