CBS Exec Steve Capus Discusses the Evolution of the Evening News

With online and mobile, broadcast is no longer the endgame


Who Steve Capus

New gig Executive editor, CBS News;executive producer, CBS Evening News

Old gig President, NBC News;executive producer, NBC Nightly News

Age 50

Twitter @SteveCapus

Photo: Alfred Maskeroni

What insider knowledge are your bringing to your new role?

I’m coming in with a little bit of a different perspective than most people have who just perhaps only had to produce for broadcast. It doesn’t get any better than being able to say, “This is a great piece of reporting at 60 Minutes, and we can showcase that on the Evening News,” and we can work together to make it that much better. It’s not an individual pursuit: it’s a group pursuit.

How are you positioning the Evening News for the future?

The Evening News is going to have a long run, both as a broadcast and as a presence online and on cellphones. It is a franchise with a very rich tradition. What I think is terrific is the Evening News is positioned in a different way than our competitors. It has charted its own path with the right kind of editorial direction, and the audience is responding well. Our ratings have grown year over year and continue to do so. I don’t take that kind of thing as an automatic. We have to make the editorial decisions that make us relevant, no matter what age the audience is. We have to do all the right things to say that we’re open for business.

You don’t seem to be afraid of synergy and being online.

The days are long gone where an organization is siloed. Any one of these news organizations has to be multiplatform to be relevant to the audience. If the audience wants to consume news on their cellphones, we have to produce for that. If they want to watch the broadcast on DVR, we need to make it simple for them. If somebody wants to check in on what’s happening on the iPads or desktops while they eat lunch at their desk, then we have to be there in an aggressive way, too.

You pushed NBC Learn when you were there. Is education a priority for you at CBS News?

Putting an emphasis on education was the right thing at NBC News. I think it’s too soon to say if we’ll do something at CBS. What I’ve spent my first few weeks on the job doing is assessing the strength of the organization, and in all honesty, I’m incredibly impressed by the talent this news division has all around the world. Right now, I want to make sure we do a broadcast that’s reflective of that talent.

What do you think of CBS’ upcoming livestreamed network?

I’m not going to have oversight of that, but in my mind, it’s part of the collective strength of CBS News overall. I think [CBS News president] David [Rhodes] had a brilliant idea to expand the reach of CBS News. I think in this era, it’s the kind of idea that you have to explore with gusto. Everybody at CBS News will contribute in one way or another.

Besides the Evening News, what do you watch?

I’ll go on binges where I watch all these different shows. I went through a phase where I watched years of Breaking Bad. I’m a Philadelphia sports fanatic. I still watch Phillies games on my iPad, which is basically admitting to having daily torture sessions.