Business as usual at CBS News as Pelley era begins

THE NEW GUY: Scott Pelley takes over as anchorman on “The CBS Evening News” (Photo: CBS News).


NEW YORK, June 11, 2011 — Scott Pelley didn’t mark his debut as the new anchor of “The CBS Evening News” in any special way Monday evening.  Instead, he chose to anchor the broadcast as if his first day was nothing special.

He made no self-referential remarks, made no speeches about what he’ll do or how the newscast might change in the Pelley era or how honored he is to be installed as only the fifth CBS evening-news anchor since 1948.

The approach was refreshing actually.  It was also unexpected since we’re not accustomed to TV personalities refraining from talking about themselves, especially on days that are very special to them personally.  Certainly, Monday must have been such a day in the life of Scott Pelley, a 53-year-old CBS newsman who had reached the pinnacle of his field, which happens to be one of the most competitive in the world.

And yet, Pelley didn’t mention it.  Instead, he anchored the news – introducing stories (10 of them) and, on occasion, exchanging a few remarks with CBS correspondents.  Perhaps the approach was deliberate.  Maybe it was meant to convey the idea, without Pelley having to spell it out, that he didn’t intend to rock the boat as the broadcast’s new anchor.

Or maybe he’s saving the boat-rocking for some future newscasts.  Whatever he was thinking, he didn’t let us in on it.  Instead, he read his copy flawlessly and, when it was time to end the show, he said simply, “For all of us at CBS News all around the world, good night.”

The Pelley era was under way, and as the week wore on, Pelley continued to underplay his own role in the broadcast.

Personally, I happen to love the old-fashioned CBS approach to news — the attention to detail, the flawless reading of the copy, the care and professionalism with which the stories are presented.  It’s all so fastidious, but in today’s world, do news viewers look for fastidiousness and attention to detail in their TV newscasts?  Other than me, does anyone really care about these qualities anymore?

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