CBS May Use Multi-Anchor Format

CBS May Use Multi-Anchor Format (AP)

CBS will probably replace Dan Rather on the evening news with a multi-anchor, perhaps multi-city format that changes the “antiquated” way of reporting the day’s top stories, CBS chief Leslie Moonves said Tuesday. Moonves, who will ultimately select Rather’s replacement, said he believes many young viewers are turned off by a single “voice of God” anchor in the Internet age.

He spoke publicly about his search for the first time since Rather announced in late November that he was stepping down from the “CBS Evening News.” Moonves stressed that he’s still considering all possibilities. It’s unclear whether a new format would be ready for when Rather leaves in early March, or whether an interim successor would be named. “Those days are over when you have that guy sitting behind the desk who everyone believes to the `nth’ degree,” Moonves told reporters. “It’s sort of an antiquated way of news telling and maybe there’s a new way of doing it.” He wouldn’t mention any potential participants, or comment on a Time magazine report this week that NBC’s Katie Couric had been contacted to gauge her interest.

Moonves conceded the turmoil at CBS News — where three executives and a producer were fired last week for their role in an ill-fated story about President Bush (news – web sites)’s military service — has encouraged him to do something more dramatic. So has the “CBS Evening News” status as a consistent and distant third behind NBC’s “Nightly News” with Brian Williams and ABC’s “World News Tonight” with Peter Jennings in the ratings, he said.

Ironically, this format is not “new” at all, as the piece notes later:

The only real example of a multi-anchor format was when ABC News had Frank Reynolds, Peter Jennings, Max Robinson and occasionally Barbara Walters reporting from different cities from 1978 until Jennings took over alone in 1983.

Indeed, I recall that format fondly as we watched ABC for years–starting immediately with Walter Cronkite’s retirement as, ironically enough, my dad never trusted Dan Rather.

Update: I missed this line from the story, despite the Drudge photograph of Stewart:

Nearly 30 million people watch the evening news on one of the three networks on most nights, but many of them are older. Young people tend to get their news in bits and pieces, from the Internet and cable, he said. “We have to try and reinvent that,” he said. “One of the ways we’re looking at is making it younger and more relevant, something that younger people can relate to as opposed to that guy preaching from the mountaintop about what we should and should not watch.” Asked twice, Moonves wouldn’t rule out a role on the evening news for Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart, whose “The Daily Show” skewers politicians and the news media each night. Moonves is co-chief executive of Viacom, which owns both CBS and Comedy Central.

No denial that Saturday Night Live Weekend Anchor Tina Fey will be part of the team, either. For that matter, Dennis Miller was a fine anchor, too.

Update (1-19): Michael Demmons makes a good point: “Well, since Stewart is adept at ‘The Fake News’ we shouldn’t be too surprised he’s being considered as a replacement for Rather.” So true.

FILED UNDER: Media, , , , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Or like Connie Chung and what’s-his-name at CBS a few years ago?