RELIABLE SOURCES REDUX

June 17th, 2007

Mark Jurkowitz of the Project for Excellence in Journalism made an interesting point on CNN’s Reliable Sources this morning in the midst of a discussion about the travails of CBS’ Evening News. A PEJ study of the network evening broadcasts shows that CBS, ABC and NBC offer roughly the same content and story selection these days. In other words, CBS’s response to Katie Couric’s lower-than-ever ratings has been to revert to a hard news format and dispense with the gimmicks.

Good move. We will see if it makes a difference over the coming months. CBS is in a street fight with ABC and NBC, and Katie will now get a chance to earn her $15 million on a level playing field.

A postscript: Rome Hartman, the former executive producer who had the unenviable task of tailoring CBS’ Evening News to Katie’s talents, now has a new job. The BBC recently hired Hartman, who CBS dumped in favor of Rick Kaplan, to head its new evening U.S. news broadcast, which Katy Kay will anchor out of Washington.

With Rome at the helm, and the BBC’s world-wide stable of talented correspondents, the new broadcast could have broad appeal to an American audience interested in international affairs. BBC America and public broadcasting stations around the country will carry the new broadcast. The BBC broadcast is not going to threaten the Big Three evening newses, but it could poach more than a few viewers from The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.


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