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Morley Safer, giant of broadcast journalism, retiring from 60 Minutes

Morley Safer, the Toronto-born journalist who filed a record 919 reports for the legendary TV news magazine show 60 Minutes, is retiring at the age of 84 this week after more than half a century with CBS.

Toronto-born Safer began his journalism career at CBC before joining CBS in 1964

Morley Safer, 60 Minutes's longest-serving correspondent, will retire this week after spending 46 seasons on the show. (Reuters/Stephen Chernin) (Stephen Chernin/Reuters)
Morley Safer, the Toronto-born journalist who filed a record 919 reports for the legendary TV news magazine show  60 Minutes, is retiring at the age of 84 this week after more than half a century with CBS.

CBS News said Wednesday it will mark the occasion with Morley Safer: A Reporter's Life, an hour-long special on Safer's career, after 60 Minutes airs this Sunday.

"After more than 50 years of broadcasting on CBS News and 60 Minutes I have decided to retire," Safer said on the show's website. "It's been a wonderful run, but the time has come to say goodbye to all of my friends at CBS and the dozens of people who kept me on the air."

Safer was a correspondent and producer with the CBC before he joined CBS News in the mid-1960s. He covered major stories in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East for the network and was the only Western correspondent in East Berlin the night the Communists began building the Berlin Wall in August 1961. 

Safer was born on November 8, 1931. After graduating from the University of Western Ontario, he began his career in Woodstock, Ont. as a writer for the Sentinel Review and then as a staff reporter at the London Free Press. 

Safer joined CBS News in April 1964 as a correspondent based in the London bureau. He opened the network's Saigon bureau in 1965, served three tours in Vietnam and received several major broadcasting honours for his reporting.
Morley Safer, seen here in an undated photograph, early in his career as a war correspondent. He covered the Vietnam War as the war for Algerian Independence.

In the documentary, Morley Safer: A Reporter's Life, Safer makes a surprising confession.

"I really don't like being on television...It makes me uneasy. It is not natural to be talking to a piece of machinery. But the money is very good," he said.

Jeff Fager, executive producer of 60 Minutes, called Safer one of the most significant figures in CBS News history.

"Morley's curiosity, his sense of adventure and his superb writing, all made for exceptional work done by a remarkable man," he said.

Although Safer spent most of his days residing in Europe and the U.S., he retained his Canadian citizenship.

"I have never had a compelling reason to change my citizenship... but then I don't believe that the colour of your passport should matter," he told the CBC. "I believe that a reporter should be stateless. It is not a matter of loyalty, but integrity."

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