CBS Evening News

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CBS Evening News
Website banner for the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley.
Created by Don Hewitt
Presented by Weekdays:
Scott Pelley (2011–present)
Jim Axelrod (Saturdays; 2012 - present) Jeff Glor (Sundays; 2012 - present)
Opening theme "CBS News Theme", composed by Trivers-Myers Music
Ending theme Same as opening
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
Location(s) CBS Broadcast Center
New York City, New York
Camera setup Multi-camera
Running time 15 minutes (1948–1963)
30 minutes (1963–present)
Production company(s) CBS News
Original channel CBS
Picture format 1080i (HDTV)
480i (16:9 SDTV)
Original run May 3, 1948 – present
External links

The CBS Evening News is the flagship daily evening television news program of CBS News, the news division of the CBS television network in the United States. The network has broadcast the program since 1948, and has used the CBS Evening News title since 1963.

Since 2011, the program is anchored by Scott Pelley on weekdays. The anchor for the Saturday edition is Jim Axelrod; Jeff Glor anchors on Sunday. It is broadcast from the CBS Broadcast Center at 524 West 57th Street in New York City.[1]

The weekday edition is broadcast Monday through Friday live from 6:30pm–7:00pm Eastern/5:30pm–6:00pm Central over CBS affiliates in the Eastern & Central time zones, and is tape delayed for the Mountain Time Zone. For viewers in the Pacific Time Zone, CBS broadcasts a separate "Western Edition" live from 6:30pm-7:00pm Pacific Time which is tape delayed to viewers in Alaska & Hawaii. (updated segments are inserted in the event of breaking news stories) The weekday and weekend editions are also ran on CBS's digital channel CBSN.


Douglas Edwards (1948-1962)[edit]

CBS began broadcasting news shows on Saturday nights, expanding to two nights a week in 1947. On May 3, 1948, Douglas Edwards began anchoring CBS Television News, a regular 15-minute nightly newscast. It aired every weeknight at 7:30 p.m. Eastern Time, and was the first regularly scheduled, network television news program to use an anchor.

The week's news stories were recapped on a Sunday night program titled Newsweek in Review. The name was later shortened to The Week in Review and the show was moved to Saturdays. In 1950, the name of the nightly newscast was changed to Douglas Edwards With the News, and the following year, it became the first news program to be broadcast on both coasts, thanks to a new coaxial cable connection, prompting Edwards to use the greeting "Good evening everyone, coast to coast."[2]

The program competed against NBC's Camel News Caravan that was launched in 1949 with John Cameron Swayze. Edwards attracted more viewers during the mid-1950s, but began losing them when Chet Huntley and David Brinkley were teamed up by NBC on the Huntley-Brinkley Report. In September 1955, Douglas Edwards with the News was moved to 6:45 p.m. ET, with some affiliates having the option of carrying a 7:15 p.m. edition.[citation needed]

On November 30, 1956, the program became the first to use the new technology of videotape to time delay the broadcast (which originated in New York City) for the western United States.[3]

Walter Cronkite (1962–1981)[edit]

A title card still from the April 4, 1968 edition of the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite, the evening of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr..

Walter Cronkite became anchor on April 16, 1962. On September 2, 1963, the CBS Evening News became network television's first half-hour weeknight news broadcast, lengthened from its original 15 minutes, and telecast at 6:30 p.m. ET (NBC's Huntley-Brinkley Report expanded to 30 minutes exactly a week later on September 9, 1963). As before, some affiliates (including flagship owned-and-operated station WCBS-TV in New York City) had the option of carrying a later edition, this time scheduled for 7 p.m. ET. NBC also allowed this practice for The Huntley-Brinkley Report and ABC later followed it for the ABC Evening News. The networks ended this practice after 1971, although some affiliates, mostly in larger markets, continued carrying the newscasts at 7 p.m. ET via tape delay from the original 6:30 p.m. broadcast (for example, the Atlanta ABC affiliate WSB-TV shows ABC World News at 7 p.m. ET rather than 6:30 p.m., in order to broadcast an hour-long local newscast).

The news program broadcast in color for one evening on August 19, 1965,[4] and made the switch permanently on January 31, 1966.[5] Cronkite's prime time special report, Who, What, When, Where, Why, broadcast on February 27, 1968, ended with Cronkite's declaration that the United States could only hope for a stalemate in Vietnam. It is often credited with influencing Lyndon Johnson's decision to drop out of the Presidential race. "If I've lost Walter Cronkite ... [I]'ve lost Middle America", he stated.[6]

Under Cronkite, the newscast began what would eventually become an 18-year period of dominating the nightly news ratings.[7] In the process, Cronkite became "the most trusted man in America" according to a Gallup Poll, a status that had first been fostered by his coverage of the JFK Assassination.[8]

With the retirement of NBC's Huntley in 1970, Cronkite moved into the ratings lead,[citation needed] holding it through the decade. Cronkite's image was further bolstered by his enthusiastic support for the space program, culminating with his anchoring of CBS News' coverage of the Apollo 11 Moon landing in 1969.

In late 1972, Cronkite prodded the show's producers to feature two nights of lengthy explanation on the Watergate scandal, which had been extensively covered by The Washington Post but had not received major national coverage. After the first half of the report, shown on a Friday, ran for 14 minutes – roughly half of the air time of the broadcast – White House officials complained to CBS founder William S. Paley. The second half of the report was aired the following Monday, but only for eight minutes.[9]

Cronkite retired from the program on March 6, 1981, nine months before his 65th birthday, under a CBS policy requiring retirement at 65, which has since been repealed.[citation needed] Then 49-year-old CBS correspondent Dan Rather replaced Cronkite the following Monday.

Dan Rather (1981–1993)[edit]

Rather had been a CBS news correspondent since the early 1960s and later became a correspondent for 60 Minutes. He began anchoring the CBS Evening News on March 9, 1981. Concerns about excessive liberalism in the media were frequently leveled at Rather, the CBS Evening News, CBS News and CBS in general.[10][11][12] Some of these concerns dated from Rather's position as White House correspondent for CBS News during the Nixon administration. An interview related to the Iran–Contra affair with then-Vice President George H.W. Bush where the two engaged in a shouting match on live television did little to dispel those concerns.[13] Rather apologized for his behavior in statements the following day.

On September 1, 1986, amidst a brewing battle among CBS's Board of Directors for control of the company and turmoil at CBS News, Rather closed his broadcast with the word "courage", repeating it the following night. On September 3, Rather said the masculine noun for the Spanish word for "courage", "coraje" (the primary translation for "courage" in Spanish is "valor"). In the face of media attention and pleas from his staff, Rather abandoned the signoff on September 8.[14]

On September 11, 1987, Rather marched off-camera in anger when it appeared that CBS Sports' coverage of a U.S. Open tennis semifinal match was going to cut into time allotted for his program.[citation needed] Rather was in Miami covering the visit to the city by Pope John Paul II. When the tennis match ended at 6:32 p.m. ET, Rather was nowhere to be found. Six minutes of dead air followed before he returned to the broadcast position. Nearly half of the audience watched and waited. Rather later suggested that he intended to force the sports department to fill up the entire half-hour so that he would not have to truncate the elaborately-planned coverage of the papal visit.[citation needed] By 1990, the Evening News was in third place behind ABC's World News Tonight with Peter Jennings and NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw.[7]

Demonstrators from the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) broke into the CBS News studio on January 23, 1991, and chanted "Fight AIDS, not Arabs" during the show's introduction. One protester was seen on camera just as Rather began speaking. Rather immediately called for a commercial break and later apologized to viewers about the incident.[15]

Dan Rather & Connie Chung (1993–1995)[edit]

From June 1, 1993, to May 18, 1995, Connie Chung co-anchored the broadcast with Dan Rather. Chung normally co-anchored in the studio with Rather, but sometimes one appeared on location, while the other remained in the studio. Though Rather never said so publicly, CBS News insiders said he did not approve of her appointment.[16]

Dan Rather (1995–2005)[edit]

Rather interviews an IOM worker at the Sultan Iskandar Muda Air Force Base in Indonesia on January 3, 2005, following the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami.

The newscast returned to a solo anchor format in 1995 with Dan Rather continuing in his role as anchor. At age 73, Rather retired from the Evening News on March 9, 2005, exactly 24 years after succeeding Cronkite.

Rather left the anchor position amidst controversy and a credibility crisis over reports broadcast in the heat of the 2004 presidential election campaign. The report was a September 2004 60 Minutes Wednesday segment questioning President George W. Bush's Texas Air National Guard record.[17][18] Conservative activists challenged the authenticity of the documents used for the report. A number of bloggers analyzed scans of the documents, and rapidly concluded they were forgeries. Subsequently, CBS commissioned an independent inquiry into the matter and several CBS staffers were fired or asked to resign.

After departing from the Evening News, Rather remained with CBS News as a correspondent. On June 20, 2006, CBS News President Sean McManus announced that Rather and CBS had agreed to end his 44-year career with the network.[19]

Bob Schieffer (2005–2006)[edit]

On March 10, 2005, Rather was succeeded on an interim basis by Face the Nation host and CBS News correspondent Bob Schieffer. At the time Schieffer took over, it was uncertain how long he would host the broadcast, whether it would retain its current shape or instead adopt some kind of multiple host or alternative format. Under Rather in the years leading up to his retirement, the show trailed its rivals at ABC and NBC by a fairly large margin. White House correspondent John Roberts, and Scott Pelley, his predecessor in that position, were often mentioned as possible successors to Rather when he retired.[20] Jim Axelrod became White House correspondent when Roberts later left for CNN.

In the months following Rather's departure, the program came to emphasize live exchanges between Schieffer and various CBS News correspondents around the world. In contrast to traditional network news practice, these exchanges were unrehearsed as part of an effort to make the language on the broadcast sound more "natural".[21] Viewership levels increased over this period of time. It was the only news broadcast to gain viewers during 2005. In November 2005, CBS announced that Evening News executive producer Jim Murphy would be replaced by Rome Hartman, who took the helm of the program in January 2006.

Schieffer led the CBS Evening News to become the #2 evening news broadcast, ahead of ABC's World News Tonight. The death of anchor Peter Jennings in 2005 coupled with the adoption of a dual-anchor format on World News Tonight and life-threatening injuries suffered by Bob Woodruff when an Iraqi military convoy he rode in hit a road-side bomb, leaving Elizabeth Vargas as sole anchor, in January 2006 put the ABC News division in flux. When Charles Gibson was appointed as anchor of World News Tonight, ABC regained stability and momentum to regain the #2 spot. Bob Schieffer's final broadcast of the CBS Evening News occurred on August 31, 2006. Russ Mitchell filled in for the following two nights (September 1 and 4), after which he was succeeded on September 5 by Katie Couric. During his time as interim anchor, Schieffer commuted to New York City, where he anchored the Evening News, from Washington D.C., his home and the location of Face the Nation.[citation needed]

Katie Couric (2006–2011)[edit]

The CBS Evening News logo used from September 2006 to May 2009.

On December 1, 2005, it was reported that Katie Couric, co-anchor of NBC's Today, was considering CBS's offer to anchor the Evening News. On April 1, 2006, Couric officially signed a contract to become anchor of the CBS Evening News. On April 5, 2006, Couric announced on Today that she would be leaving the show and NBC News after a 15-year run as the morning show's co-anchor.[22] Ratings during Couric's period as anchor fluctuated, seemingly improving at times, but also posting historic lows rivaling those dating back to at least the 1991–92 season.[23]

Couric began working at CBS News in July 2006. During her first broadcast as anchor on September 5, 2006, new graphics, a new set, and a new theme composed by Academy Award winning composer James Horner were introduced. Similar graphics and music would be used on other CBS News programs such as Up to the Minute, CBS Morning News, and The Early Show throughout the month of October. A new opening title sequence was designed, with Walter Cronkite providing the voiceover, replacing Wendell Craig unless a temporary voice-over was needed. Following Cronkite's death months earlier, Morgan Freeman started doing the voice-over on January 4, 2010. The program also debuted a new feature called "freeSpeech" in which different Americans, ranging from well-known national figures to average people, would provide news commentary.[24] After overwhelmingly negative reaction, the segment was discontinued.

On March 8, 2007, The New York Times reported that executive producer Rome Hartman was being replaced by television news veteran Rick Kaplan. Hartman left as executive producer on March 7. Kaplan came to Evening News after stints at MSNBC, CNN, and ABC's World News Tonight with Peter Jennings.

On April 4, 2007, Couric did a one-minute commentary about the importance of reading, in a piece substantially lifted from a Wall Street Journal column by Jeffrey Zaslow. Couric claimed that she remembered her first library card, but the words were all from Zaslow's column. It was determined that a producer had actually written the piece. What made the plagiarism especially striking was the personal flavor of the video – now removed from the website – that began, "I still remember when I got my first library card, browsing through the stacks for my favorite books."[25]

Katie Couric in November 2007.

Much of the rest of the script was stolen from the Journal article. Zaslow said at the time that CBS had "been very gracious and apologetic, and we at the Journal appreciate it."[26] This is considered double plagiarism. The producer who wrote the piece copied from someone else for Couric, and the anchor claimed the words were hers when they were not.[27][28] The producer responsible for Couric's piece, Melissa McNamara, was fired hours after the Journal contacted CBS News to complain.[26][29] The network promised changes in its procedures.[30]

On July 28, 2008, the CBS Evening News became the third national newscast to began broadcasting in high definition, behind NBC Nightly News and PBS's The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.[31]

On August 27, 2008, Mediabistro wrote a piece about the Big Three network newscasts, praising Couric's Evening News for extensive reporting that had, in its opinion, content better than its rivals.[32] Another critic from MarketWatch praised Couric's work and said that people should watch out for her in 2009.[33] Washington Post writer Tom Shales praised Couric as a warmer, more benevolent presence than her two competitors, something that she brought to the program nearly 16 years of goodwill from doing "Today" and becoming America's sweetheart, or else very close to it, and he claimed that this goodwill remained. He added that viewers "may find bad news less discomforting and sleep-depriving if Couric gives it to them". He also added that she doesn't try to sugarcoat or prettify grim realities. According to Shales, the Evening News may be a more hospitable, welcoming sort of place than its competitors. He concluded by stating that "it's naive to think that viewers choose their news anchor based solely on strict journalistic credentials, though Couric's do seem to be in order, despite her critics' claims".[34]

The CBS Evening News with Katie Couric won the 2008 and 2009 Edward R. Murrow Award for best newscast. In September 2008, Couric interviewed Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin, earning respect from a MarketWatch critic for asking tough questions.[35] In 2011, the program was the recipient of both an Emmy for Outstanding Continuing Coverage and the Edward R. Murrow Award for Video News Series for foreign correspondent Terry McCarthy's "Afghan Bomb Squad.[36][37]

On May 18, 2009, the newscast's graphics were overhauled, using a blue and red color scheme with web-influenced motifs and layouts. The new graphics design featured a look influenced by the graphics that CBS used during the 2008 presidential election coverage.[38]

Couric had been the only solo female network news anchor in the United States from September 5, 2006, until December 21, 2009, when Diane Sawyer succeeded Charles Gibson, who retired as anchor of ABC's World News. In 2009, CBS News revived its CBS Reports brand for CBS Reports: Children of the Recession, a critically acclaimed multi-part series. The second installment, CBS Reports: Where America Stands, aired in January 2010.[citation needed]

On April 3, 2011, the Associated Press reported that Couric would be leaving the Evening News when her contract expired in June. Couric later confirmed her departure to People, citing a desire for "a format that will allow (her) to engage in more multi-dimensional storytelling."[39] On Friday May 13, 2011, Couric announced that the following Thursday, May 19, would be her last broadcast.

Despite originally retooling the newscasts to add more features, interviews, and human interest stories, over time it returned to the hard news format popularized by Cronkite.[40]

Scott Pelley (2011–present)[edit]

Scott Pelley was called the front-runner to replace Couric by The New York Times.[41]

On May 3, 2011, CBS confirmed that Pelley would replace Couric on the CBS Evening News in June. Harry Smith served as the interim anchor until Pelley's tenure started on June 6, 2011.[42][43][44] The graphics were subtly updated, the American flag background on the news set (used since the 2008 elections) was replaced by a replica of the globe fixture during the Cronkite era, and the James Horner theme was replaced by the 1987-91 theme composed by Trivers-Myers Music that was used during the Rather era.

Pelley has refocused the program towards hard news and away from the soft news and infotainment features of the early Couric era. Story selection has focused more on foreign policy, Washington politics, and economic subjects.[45] The audience began to grow immediately, closing the gap between the CBS Evening News and its competitors by one million viewers within a year, although the CBS program is still in third place.[46]

Weekend editions[edit]

In February 1966, the CBS Evening News with Roger Mudd premiered on weekends, in the 30-minute format. The program has aired on Saturdays and Sundays since, except for a period between September 1971 and December 1975, when CBS aired 60 Minutes in the 6 p.m. Eastern/5 p.m. Central slot on Sundays in order to help affiliates fulfill requirements imposed by the FCC's Prime Time Access Rule. The Sunday newscast returned in January 1976 when the network moved 60 Minutes down to its present time, at 7 p.m. Eastern/6 p.m. Central.

The CBS Evening News is the only remaining network evening newscast that uses separate anchors for its Saturday and Sunday editions (NBC Nightly News previously used separate anchors for the Saturday and Sunday evening editions until John Seigenthaler was appointed weekend anchor in 1993, while ABC World News maintained separate anchors for its weekend editions until Saturday anchor David Muir took over as the program's Sunday anchor in 2011). More recently, Russ Mitchell had been the weekend anchor for the CBS Evening News until December 2011, when he announced his resignation from CBS News to take a lead anchor position with NBC affiliate WKYC-TV in Cleveland, Ohio. Currently, Jim Axelrod is the anchor of the Saturday night edition; Jeff Glor is anchor of the Sunday night edition of the CBS broadcast.

Weekend editions of the CBS Evening News may occasionally be abbreviated (with segments and stories originally scheduled to be broadcast that night excised to account for the decreased running time) or preempted outright due to sporting events (such as golf tournament broadcasts, and college football and basketball coverage) that overrun into the program's timeslot (6:30 p.m. Eastern/5:30 p.m. Central – though most CBS affiliates, especially those in the Central and Mountain Time Zones, air the Sunday edition one half-hour earlier than the rest of the week's broadcasts at 6:00 p.m. Eastern/5:00 p.m. Central). However, if the program is pre-empted that evening, an anchor will deliver updates during a break in the action in the event of a major developing news story.

Western edition[edit]

CBS introduced a western edition in 1979, anchored by Terry Drinkwater[47] with staff in its Los Angeles bureau on standby for updates to CBS Evening News each weekday night.[48]

Radio broadcast[edit]

A portion of the CBS Evening News is simulcast weekdays on some CBS radio stations. For example, WCBS (AM) in New York City and KYW-AM in Philadelphia generally simulcast the first ten minutes of the program (6:30 to 6:40 p.m. ET). KNX (AM) in Los Angeles and both KCBS-AM and KFRC-FM in San Francisco, California, simulcast the live television broadcast from 3:31 to 3:38 p.m. PT. WBZ (AM) in Boston and WNEW (FM) in Washington, DC simulcasts the full news cast from 6:30pm to 7:00pm ET.

International broadcasts[edit]

The CBS Evening News is broadcast on Sky News to viewers in Europe, Africa, Middle East and Asia at 2:30 and 5:30 a.m. GMT. In Australia, the program is shown daily at 11:30 a.m., on Sky News Australia. In New Zealand, Sky News New Zealand broadcasts CBS Evening News live at 1:30 p.m. local time. In Mexico, Guatemala and El Salvador, CBS Evening News is broadcast on the American Network. In Japan, the CBS Evening News is shown on BS-TBS as part of their moring news programme.[49]

The Evening News was broadcast live on ATV World in Hong Kong daily until January 1, 2009. Belize's Tropical Vision Limited occasionally airs Evening News as a substitute for its more regularly carried Nightly News on Saturdays and occasionally during the week.


Based at the CBS News New York City Headquarters

Based in Washington, D.C.

Based in Los Angeles

Based in London

Based in other locations


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  37. ^ 2011 Edward R. Murrow Awards National Winners
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  49. ^ BS-TBS News[dead link]

External links[edit]