CBS is retooling its weekend evening-news broadcast in an effort to align its TV and broadband operations more closely and cut some of the costs from a show that is routinely pre-empted by sports coverage and other weekend programming.
As a result, a new iteration of the broadcast will appear. Gone from the weekends will be the storied “CBS Evening News” title. In its place? “CBS Weekend News.” The new program will have new anchors and could have more stories in the mix that have appeared on CBSN, the live-streaming news service CBS launched in late 2014. Reena Ninan and Elaine Quijano (pictured, above), will anchor the program on Saturday and Sunday, respectively. Both also serve as anchors on CBSN.
“Given the number of sports overruns and out-and-out pre-emptions, it would be better for us as a news organization to come up with what I think is a smarter, 24-hour approach to covering the world, and making sure we’ve got all the bases covered,” said Steve Capus, executive editor of CBS News and executive producer of “CBS Evening News,” in an interview. “That’s what we’ve done.”
“CBS Weekend News” will continue to feature original reports commissioned by producers, but it may seize upon the availability of breaking news that has appeared on CBSN. The revamped program could also feature some of the best reporting from across CBS News in recent days, like a deep investigation that appeared during the week on “CBS Evening News” that has created ripples and headlines. On-the-ground reporting from CBS affiliate stations could also be tapped for select events. Capus is expected to add more supervision of the weekend programs to his portfolio.
The move comes as CBS News grapples with what sort of news organization it should be in a new age of video consumption. News aficionados can get headlines and even rough footage at a moment’s notice, thanks to social media and streaming video. The news division launched CBSN in late 2014 as an answer to the demand for instant coverage, hoping the broadband delivery would trump the massive fixed costs of starting a cable-news operation from scratch.
CBS News President David Rhodes has been eager to align the CBS unit with its new 24/7 capabilities. “Over time, more things are going to debut on CBSN and then flow to other broadcasts,” Rhodes told Variety in a recent interview. “You’d have to really have your head in the sand not to say this is where the business is going.” He recently described a scenario in which a foreign correspondent might file a report to CBSN for quick release that could also be used as the basis for a segment in the evening-news broadcast.
The evening-news maneuver required the elimination of fewer than 10 jobs associated with the production of the “Evening News” broadcast. Most of the employees affected have been reassigned elsewhere within the company. The weekend anchors of the “CBS Evening News,” Jim Axelrod on Saturdays and Jeff Glor on Sundays, are staying with the organization and are expected to pursue their other duties with the network. Glor is a national correspondent who also contributes to “60 Minutes Sports” and Axelrod is one of the network’s more aggressive investigative reporters.
CBSN has already been used to launch some important CBS News stories first surface. A recent Charlie Rose interview with President Obama moved first on CBSN in a two-minute segment before appearing in different forms on CBS Radio, CBS News’ feed to affiliates and “CBS Evening News,” among other outlets.
The first “CBS Weekend News” will debut this weekend. Vladimir Duthiers will anchor the Saturday broadcast.