Ted Koppel: Scott Pelley at the Desk Means a Harder Newscast for CBS

By Alex Weprin 

Former ABC News “Nightline” anchor Ted Koppel made a comment that seemed to be aimed at former “CBS Evening News” anchor Katie Couric at an event in Washington yesterday. B&C’s John Eggerton was at the event and caught the remark.

Koppel said:

[T]that CBS was “clearly” making an effort to do harder news on its nightly newscast and he hoped it succeeded.

Koppel was referring to CBS’ naming of Scott Pelley to the anchor chair.

Moderating a New American Foundation event Wednesday on the FCC’s just-released future of media study, Koppel said it will be “very interesting” to follow the ratings of the newscast with Pelley at the helm. “I think there is actually a significant number of people out there who are just ravenous for a TV network that will really give them good hard news,” he said.

Koppel’s insinuation is that Couric’s newscast was lacking in hard news, a claim often made but rarely bolstered by evidence from critics. In an AP story today, David Bauder also looks at Pelley’s newscast and its selection of news:

Last week, NBC’s “Nightly News” spent a total of 8 minutes, 54 seconds on the Weiner story, according to the Pew Research Center Project for Excellence in Journalism. ABC devoted 8:16 to Weiner, while CBS spent 2:33 on the story, Pew researchers found.

“The message of last week could be reclaiming CBS as a more serious-minded news organization,” said Mark Jurkowitz, associate director of the Pew center’s journalism project. He cautioned, though, that it could be risky to draw conclusions from such a short period. Experts like Tyndall have contended that CBS had a strong hard news focus even before Couric left.

Have you watched Pelley’s newscast? Have you seen a noticeable shift in hard news coverage?

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