Does it matter who anchors the CBS Evening News?


Image Credit: Gary Miller/

With Katie Couric reportedly eyeing the exit, the third-place CBS Evening News seems prepared to move in a different direction. The New York Times reports that 60 Minutes correspondent Scott Pelley is in line to take over the anchor’s seat should Couric depart when her contract expires this summer. Though CBS reiterated that they’re still negotiating with Couric and declined to comment on the speculation, CBS’s Harry Smith and Russ Mitchell, and CNN’s Anderson Cooper have been mentioned along with Pelley as her possible successors.

Pelley, who’s worked his way up at CBS by reporting from some of the hairiest hot spots on the globe, has the credibility to step right in and do the job. But does he really want it? Or need it? As the Times points out, the Evening News spot isn’t what it used to be, a notion that would’ve been blasphemous a generation ago when Walter Cronkite was wrapping up his reign behind the desk. Certainly, the three major networks’ newscasts still drive the daily news narrative, but with 24-hour cable and the Internet, the anchor’s influence is increasingly diminished. The only time the country seems to give the Big Three its full attention is during important political elections, and even then, they’ve got competition.

It’s not unlike what’s occurred in late-night entertainment. The Tonight Show was the crown jewel in the days when Johnny Carson ruled, but his old kingdom has been subdivided and subdivided again into demographic fiefdoms. The same thing has gradually happened to network news. Did Couric’s cultural impact increase or decrease after she joined CBS? (That you can even debate the question illustrates the changed landscape.)

At the end of the day, if CBS offers Pelley the job, he probably jumps. There’s no denying it would raise his profile more than a dozen Peabody wins for his work on 60 Minutes. But will he feel chained to the desk? One couldn’t help notice how refreshed Couric appeared on the daytime talks shows when she was promoting her new book. She’s extending her brand, too, with a documentary on obesity, according to Deadline. Prestige is nice, but journalistic relevance comes in all shapes and sizes in 2011.

How many times do you watch the evening news each week? Do you care who’s behind the desk? Is there anyone out there who you would make the effort to watch every night if he or she were the anchor?

Read more:
Katie Couric and Matt Lauer to reunite?
Matt Lauer to leave ‘Today’?
Katie Couric leaving ‘CBS Evening News’

Comments (23 total) Add your comment
  • Claudette

    It matters a great deal!

    • LOL

      Couric didn’t command the respect that someone like Diane Sawyer would.

    • stu

      no on all 3 channels.
      this guy is not photo genic.

    • stu

      those sources r wrong!
      harry retired from CBS news.
      andy already has 3 jobs.
      give the job to bob S.

  • Gloria

    Nope, not really. How long has Couric even been on? I may have watched a part of one show when she first started just to check it out, but since then?…pffft! I tend to get my news from the internet whenever and from where ever I decide to check it out. I don’t need to schedule the nightly news.

  • jj

    Time for George Stephanopoulous to jump channels and go over to be the CBS anchor.

  • Elle Fanning

    I have no idea who you’re talking about. Apparently, some people haven’t figured out their phones have internet on them. By the time 5 or 6 pm rolls around, I’ve read every news headline there is for that day on Twitter and the such.

    • Abe Froman

      Sorry, I want a little more than just 142-character headlines.

  • Natalie

    Walter Cronkite — check!
    Dan Rather — check!
    Bob Schieffer — check:
    Katie Couric — NOT ONCE!

  • jr

    dan rather ruined the CBS evening news and it will never recover no matter who sits in that chair.

    • TV_Pete

      I agree. Walter Cronkite used to spend hours EVERY day to ensure that what he was going to say did not have a significant bias.

      This earned Cronkite respect from all sides.

  • TQB

    No, it doesn’t matter – which is why it was a great decision for Couric to get the heck out of the sinking ship. Nightly news is doomed.

  • Katie (not Couric)

    The CBS Evening News delivers the most thoughtful, informative take on the news each night, and I will miss Katie Couric in that anchor chair. She was also an excellent interviewer. It’s not just about what the news is (Headline: Earthquake in Japan) but how it is covered, and CBS does well in an age of sensationalism. I hope they still go for quality when Katie is gone.

  • RK

    No. Nightly news is dead.

    • alex

      I don’t think any of my friends around my age (24) watch the network evening newscasts. Me, I tune in every night to ABC’s World News.

  • Inga

    Unless CBS completely changes formats, from a talking head to a forum of people discussing the day’s news, it won’t matter who anchors. Network news is passe. Besides which, a practicality: I don’t know many professional OR blue collar people who are at home at 5:30 pm (Cdt). Have to get the news from the internet anyway, as just about everybody agrees ….

  • will g alvira

    Eh , nope.

  • Mark

    This is Russ Mitchell’s job. He’s been busting his arse for CBS a while. Now is his time. If they don’t offer this to Russ, it will prove Les Moonves is a bigger moron than we all thought.

  • JB

    Makes no difference at all. These anchors don’t write the news; they READ the news. And each network slants the news according to their own agendas. I’d rather surf the cable news networks, thank you!

    • Walter machine

      The network news anchor does not just read the news . He or she exercises editorial control of the lead and following stories carried on each broadcast. Hours of work go into these decisins each night .

      • CB

        I really like how Scott Pelley delivers the evening news. I am now a convert. I need news without all the emotion.

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