Gulf Oil Spill a ‘Seminal Moment’ For News Orgs

By Alex Weprin 

With the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico still spewing and not showing signs of slowing down, news organizations are committing their resources to continuing to cover the story.

Broadcasting & Cable’s Marisa Guthrie spoke to a number of news executives, producers and corespondents, all of whom say they will be committed to covering the story… even when the news cycle has moved on (Supreme Court nomination hearings anyone?)

“I don’t think we’re going to have Gulf fatigue in the next three or four weeks,” says Bob Epstein, executive producer of NBC Nightly News. “It’s only getting worse.”

One of the things that could keep the story in the news cycle is the relatively low cost of covering it. Unlike the earthquake in Haiti, which cost news divisions millions in transportation and logistics, covering the oil spill is a lower-cost affair. Guthrie notes that “NBC Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams did his part by flying all-coach airline JetBlue.

The cost factor is particularly important for the broadcast news divisions, which have been hit hard by the economic downturn.

“This is one of those seminal moments when a network news division proves its worth,” says Rick Kaplan, executive producer of the CBS Evening News With Katie Couric. “This is it.”

CBS News is backing up its words with action. The network announced today that the “CBS Evening News” and “The Early Show” will be anchored from the Gulf region weekly, and “will continue for the duration of the crisis.”

“The oil spill in the Gulf will continue to be a major story for the foreseeable future,” said CBS News & Sports president Sean McManus in a statement. “Our commitment to anchor live from there at least once a week reflects the importance of the story.”

The CBS News press release is after the jump.


CBS News Continues Comprehensive Oil Spill Coverage Across

All Broadcasts and Platforms

CBS EVENING NEWS anchor and managing editor Katie Couric and CBS News’ THE EARLY SHOW anchor Harry Smith will anchor their broadcasts live from the Gulf Coast weekly, commencing Monday, June 14, it was announced today by Sean McManus, President, CBS News and Sports. The weekly broadcasts, which will continue for the duration of the crisis, are currently scheduled to air each Monday. Reports from the region will continue to be prominently featured across all CBS News broadcasts and platforms.

“The oil spill in the Gulf will continue to be a major story for the foreseeable future,” said McManus. “Our commitment to anchor live from there at least once a week reflects the importance of the story.”

CBS News correspondents in the region include lead correspondent Mark Strassmann; Kelly Cobiella, reporting from various locations in the region; Dr. Jennifer Ashton, reporting on issues surrounding health; and Dr. Debbye Turner, reporting on impact to wildlife and ecology. The CBS News digital team also will provide in-depth reports on technological issues.

Other CBS News coverage of the disaster continues from Washington, D.C., and around the country with Chief Washington Correspondent and FACE THE NATION anchor Bob Schieffer reporting on the spill’s political and policy dimensions, chief White House correspondent Chip Reid covering President Obama’s handling of the crisis, investigative correspondent Sharyl Attkisson reporting on the responses of both BP and the federal government, and chief legal correspondent Jan Crawford covering the legal ramifications in the region and to BP. Bill Whittaker continues his reporting on the widening economic impact of the spill and Ben Tracy reports on lessons learned from the Exxon Valdez spill.

About CBS News

CBS News is the news and information arm of CBS Corporation, dedicated to providing the best in journalism under standards it pioneered at the dawn of radio and television and continues to set in today’s digital age. Headquartered in New York, CBS News includes bureaus across the globe and influential, critically acclaimed programs providing newsmaking features and interviews, investigative reports, analysis and breaking news 24 hours a day, seven days a week, utilizing a multi-platform model for news distribution across television (CBS Television Network), radio (CBS Radio Network), the Internet ( and hand-held devices (CBS Mobile). CBS News’ multiple award-winning programs include its flagship daily news program, THE CBS EVENING NEWS WITH KATIE COURIC; #1 news magazine, 60 MINUTES; fastest-growing network morning program, THE EARLY SHOW; top-rated true-crime magazine show, 48 HOURS MYSTERY; newsmaking Washington public-affairs show, FACE THE NATION; and #1 Sunday morning program, SUNDAY MORNING. Other CBS News originals range from CBS Radio’s WORLD NEWS ROUNDUP, broadcasting’s longest-running program, to’s innovative new webcasts and blogs, available at

About CBS Corporation

CBS Corporation is a mass media company with constituent parts that reach back to the beginnings of the broadcast industry, as well as newer businesses that operate on the leading edge of the media industry. The Company, through its many and varied operations, combines broad reach with well-positioned local businesses, all of which provide it with an extensive distribution network by which it serves audiences and advertisers in all 50 states and key international markets. It has operations in virtually every field of media and entertainment, including broadcast television (CBS and The CW – a joint venture between CBS Corporation and Warner Bros. Entertainment), cable television (Showtime Networks, Smithsonian Networks and CBS College Sports Network), local television (CBS Television Stations), television production and syndication (CBS Television Studios, CBS Studios International and CBS Television Distribution), radio (CBS Radio), advertising on out-of-home media (CBS Outdoor), publishing (Simon & Schuster), interactive media (CBS Interactive), music (CBS Records), licensing and merchandising (CBS Consumer Products), video/DVD (CBS Home Entertainment), motion pictures (CBS Films) and sustainable media (Ecomedia). For more information, log on to