Friday, March 09, 2007

Moving and shaking in the news business

After reading TD's post last week, we all know that Katie Couric and everyone at "CBS Evening News" are in trouble. That shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who has followed the progress of the newscast. It has remained in a solid third place behind the other network evening newscasts. But CBS news execs continue trying to remedy its dismal ratings with change-ups in the staff.

The NYT reports that the executive producer of the show has been ousted. Rome Hartman was informed after CBS's Wednesday night newscast that former MSNBC president of both CNN and MSNBC Rick Kaplan would be replacing him.

According to the article, Hartman was the one responsible for a lot of the stylistic changes to "CBS Evening News" even prior to Couric's arrival as anchor. These changes were often received negatively, criticized as being more feature-y and soft.

After Mr. Feder's talk with us last week, I'm interested in seeing what this change may do to "CBS Evening News" ratings.

Actually, I've met Mr. Kaplan. He was a special guest to one of my classes at Wellesley last year, and he knows what he's talking about. He spent a good 3-4 hours talking with us about how to stack a newscast. And heck, he's pretty darn brilliant.

But as brilliant as the man is, I don't know that his presence at "CBS Evening News" will revive ratings. I wonder if he knows what is so fundamentally wrong with the newscast that people don't watch it. Because I don't watch it, I can't say I know what is wrong with it. And I am doubtful that this staff member change will do more than past changes have.

Maybe we can blame the continued dismal reception on Katie. If only we could do an experiment and replace her with a different female anchor for a couple months. Wouldn't that be interesting.



At Sunday, March 11, 2007, Anonymous LA said...

Changes all around at the nightly newscasts - that NYT article goes on to mention that NBC and Brian Williams will also have a new executive producer.
Bill Carter writes in the article that this was at the same time that Gibson and ABC won a ratings month.

And then Williams goes to Iraq.

All these change-ups -- they're funny to me -- because these national newscasts have the fanciest and latest information on ratings and audiences and focus groups. And consultants' advisings. And still ... they're not perfect nor do they have all the answers. They aren't reaching their audiences very well and they're not keeping them.

But - I guess we'll have to wait and see if anything changes besides the look of the shows.


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