So Jeff Fager goes from being responsible for CBS News’ "60 Minutes" each week to being responsible for CBS News 10,080 minutes each week.
The network unexpectedly announced Tuesday that Fager will become chairman of CBS News, beginning Feb. 22. David Rhodes, who has been head of TV operations for Bloomberg News and before that had a long stint at Fox News Channel, will become president.
Sean McManus, who has run CBS Sports since 1996 and added CBS News to his responsibilities in 2005, will just oversee the sports division as its chairman, a new title for him.
One need only look at the growing heft of the newly combined sports operations of NBC Universal and Comcast and the superpower that is Walt Disney’s ESPN empire to know there may be something to the idea that running CBS Sports is a full-time job requiring undivided attention.
McManus got to be like the late ABC legend Roone Arledge and run both the network news and sports divisions for a while. But Arledge, the longtime boss of McManus’ father, the late sportscaster Jim McKay, never had to face anything like the competition, economic pressures and technological changes affecting the business of sports and news today.
The all-too-common phrase in news these days is "doing more with less," and "less" is the dominant factor no matter how much "more" is needed. Accountants, tailors, barbers, butchers, sculptors and surgeons can cut their way to greatness. News people can’t, although budgets often demand it.
It’s never been more necessary to give the audience something unavailable elsewhere, be it facts, greater understanding, a sharper perspective, a unique voice or simply a good yarn.
"60 Minutes," which Fager will continue to run, has almost always delivered and thrived. But "The Early Show," CBS’ recently revamped entry in the morning news race, trails NBC’s "Today," the perennial broadcast network leader, by 47 percent this season. CBS’ nightly newscast, meanwhile, has lost 29 percent of its audience in the past decade, averaging 6.1 million viewers, and continues to lag behind NBC and ABC.
Among the first orders of business for Fager and Rhodes will be to determine whether CBS and lead anchor Katie Couric want to extend their marriage, and, if so, what an agreeable price would be. But that’s a math problem, and there are other subjects, like history, that should be heeded.
from "The Chicago Tribune"
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