NEW YORK (WCBS 880) – A new era begins at CBS News on Monday, June 6, 2011.
Scott Pelley, the veteran 60 Minutes correspondent, takes over as anchor and managing editor of the CBS Evening News.
Before he does that, he sat down for a chat with veteran WCBS 880 reporter Rich Lamb.
“Douglas Edwards, Walter Cronkite, Dan Rather, Bob Schieffer, Katie Couric – this is a heady moment for you,” said Lamb.
“Well, it is. I mean, it’s a great honor, of course to work with the men and women of CBS News all around the world and it is something that I never expected to happen. I never expected my name to be placed in that same list, but it’s a distinction that you have to earn and so I’m eager to get started on the Evening News and start earning the trust of the audience. We’ll see how well they like me. I hope we have a great relationship for a long, long time,” replied Pelley.
“Your experience on 60 Minutes, how will that change or modify or somehow influence your approach on the Evening News?” asked Lamb.
“Well, you know Rich, we get a lot of mail after every 60 Minutes broadcast. The audience says ‘I didn’t know that. You told me something I didn’t know. I’ve been following this story all week long and because of the original reporting and the unique insight of 60 Minutes, I’ve learned something new. Your broadcast was worth my time.’ Well, that’s exactly what I want to bring over to the Evening News. I want to take the original reporting and the unique insight of all of our CBS News correspondents around the world, push that to the front of the broadcast, so that the audience at the end of the broadcast says to themselves, ‘That was worth my time. It was a good investment.’,” answered Pelley.
“In an age of internet news, instant information, what is the value of the CBS Evening News?” asked Lamb.
“Well, the value of the CBS Evening News is in our great correspondents and reporters across the globe. I mean, we’re talking about Bob Schieffer, Lara Logan, David Martin at the Pentagon, and Mark Phillips in London, and all of these terrific guys who are experts in their fields have been working in these areas for decades. Our idea is to take all of that expertise, push it up to the front of the broadcast, and let those guys break news, make news, and make our broadcast the hard news destination for the American audience every weeknight,” responded Pelley.
“You are not only the anchor of the CBS Evening News, but also the managing editor. What does that mean?” asked Lamb.
“That’s a great question. You’ve hit it right on the head. The anchoring part, at the end of the day, if you ask me, is the least important part. It’s the most visible part, but what’s important is that managing editor job, coming in first thing in the morning, working with the correspondents and producers, figuring out what we’re going to cover, how we’re going to cover it, and then, as the day goes on, working on those scripts to make sure that the broadcast is concise and very clear. If you get the first ten hours of the day right, the last half hour tends to work out pretty well, and that’s what my job is,” said Pelley.
“Who are your influences? If there’s a pantheon of heroes in your life, who are they? To whom do you look up?” asked Lamb.
“Wow. What a great question. Umm, Dan Rather was a great mentor of mine. Bob Schieffer has been and continues to be a great teacher of mine throughout this whole period. I read a lot of biography and I’m inspired by many people. I’m very inspired by the story of Nelson Mandela, very inspired by the rhetoric and the speeches of Winston Churchill, for example. I love history and I read a great deal of it. But at CBS News, there’s a lot history here and when you think of people like [Edward R.] Murrow, [Charles] Collingwood, and the way up through Rather and company, you really have the best examples of the traditions of journalism, which are what we intend to follow going forward,” said Pelley.
The interview went on for several more minutes.
LISTEN: Rich Lamb With Scott Pelley
(Download the full interview HERE)
The CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley debuts on Monday at 6:30 p.m. on CBS2.