The McManus Split: 85% News, 15% Sports, Except This Time of Year

By Chris Ariens 

Newsday’s Neil Best caught up with CBS News & Sports President Sean McManus yesterday as he shuttled between news meetings and overseeing the broadcast of the first games of the NCAA tournament. Best asks, “How does one go from a meeting focused on floods, philandering governors, financial crises and Iraq to March Madness without suffering journalistic whiplash?”

Of the challenge, McManus says he has “sort of become addicted” to the rush. He spends 85 percent of his time on news and 15 on sports, where he has a “very well-oiled machine” run by a veteran staff. This time of year, though, during the NCAAs and Masters, the equation tilts toward a 50-50 split.

Of Evening News anchor Katie Couric, McManus says, “Katie anchoring from a qualitative standpoint is working really well, but from a quantitative standpoint with respect to numbers, it’s not where we want it to be. That needs to be fixed.”

For guidance, McManus looks to broadcasting legend Roone Arledge, with whom he worked at ABC around the time Arledge took over running both ABC News & Sports. Arledge died in 2002.

“One of my greatest regrets in life is that I don’t have the opportunity to go over once a month or once every couple of weeks just to spend an hour with him to get his opinion,” McManus said.