Newsmags swap leadership

NEW YORK — When Don Hewitt ends his long run as exec producer of CBS News’ “60 Minutes,” a woman will be sitting in the No. 2 seat for the first time.

CBS News announced Monday that “60 Minutes II” executive editor Patti Hassler will become exec editor of “60” proper when incoming executive producer Jeff Fager takes over for Hewitt in late spring.

Hassler’s jump is part of a dizzying swap of leadership between the two newsmags. Fager, who is exec producer of “60 II,” will be replaced by “60” exec editor Josh Howard when Hewitt steps down in May.

To some degree, the 6-year-old “60 II” was created as a transition tool in anticipation of Hewitt’s eventual retirement from the newmag he created 36 years ago.

The only “outsider” to get a seat in the newly drawn “60” franchise is Mary Murphy, who was tapped Monday to serve as Howard’s No. 2 at “60 II” in the rejigged title of senior broadcast producer.

Most recently, Murphy has been a senior editor of CBS News’ Campaign 2004 unit. She has held a number of other positions within the newsmag, including serving as a producer for “60” throughout the 1990s.

Hassler has been with CBS News for 26 years, first working for “60.” Along with Fager, she helped launch “60 II.”

“If anybody has earned this spot, it’s Patti,” Hewitt said.

News execs said an hourlong special in honor of Hewitt is skedded to air on CBS May 23. Tribute is expected to include an appearance by Hewitt, as well as clips of his favorite moments and news stories.

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