It’s a New Day at CBS as Norah O’Donnell Takes Her Seat in the Evening News Anchor Chair Tonight

By A.J. Katz Comment

A new chapter in the history of CBS News begins tonight, as the CBS Evening News with Norah O’Donnell launches at 6:30 p.m. ET.

CBS News evp of news Kim Godwin will serve as launch ep until the newscast moves down to DC in the fall.

The former co-host of CBS This Morning believes her newscast will stand out from what you’ll see on cable news. “If you want affirmation, you can turn on a cable channel,” she told LA Times’ Steve Battaglio. “If you want information, turn on the CBS Evening News. People are craving a trusted, fact-based news source.”

Battaglio also reports that O’Donnell’s colleagues at CBS News and her old colleagues at NBC News believes she is “a hard-driving personality who will bring a competitive edge to the network’s evening news operation, which has been adrift for several years.”

She’ll have her work cut out for her. CBS has been stuck in third place in the evening newscast ratings race going back to the days of Dan Rather. Katie Couric, Scott Pelley, and most recently, Jeff Glor couldn’t help lift the network out of the rut.

CBS Evening News also posted the most significant year-over-year audience audience declines of the three evening newsers this past quarter. Granted, it’s tough to post ratings growth when you’re using a rotation of fill-in anchors (Glor departed the newscast in May), but the year-over-year audience losses can still be traced to the final months of Pelley’s tenure in the anchor chair.

Nevertheless, the network’s powers-that-be are quite bullish on O’Donnell’s abilities to deliver a compelling evening newscast.

She’s also very familiar to the CBS News audience from her years at CTM, which doesn’t hurt.

“Norah is an incredibly fluid broadcaster,” CBS News president Susan Zirinsky–who began her run as network chief on March 1–told LAT. “She has the ability to take multiple pieces of information and is able to synthesize them.”

In terms of the revamped broadcast itself– The theme music is reportedly slower and more orchestral-sounding. The flashy, rapid-fire video montage that opened the CBS Evening News with Jeff Glor is apparently no longer.

The network also seems to be doing a better job of promoting the newscast. Most recently, promos for the launch popped up at various times throughout CBS Sports’ broadcast of the John Deere Classic golf tournament yesterday.

Glor’s newscast seemed to receive limited promotional support from the network.

As mentioned last week, O’Donnell is interviewing Jeff Bezos and Caroline Kennedy for tonight’s premiere. They’re speaking about the of the U.S. space program and the future of space exploration, as the network marks the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 all week.

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