Reviving CBS  | American Journalism Review
 AJR  The Beat
From AJR,   March 1996

Reviving CBS   

By Dilshad D. Husain
     


A ndrew Heyward says he's not about to accept third place in the ratings game. And the new president of CBS News has plenty of ideas for restoring the luster of the somewhat tarnished Tiffany network.

He wants to punch up the writing and presentation on the evening news to complement Dan Rather 's reporting skills. He wants to see more controversial subjects tackled on "60 Minutes," longtime king of TV newsmagazines whose ratings have sagged of late (see page 48). And he thinks a more varied story repertoire will help make "CBS This Morning" competitive in a time slot that he says "has bedeviled CBS forever."

And the network veteran doesn't plan to stand pat when it comes to "48 Hours," the newsmagazine that has been his pet project. He says he wants it to be more "responsive" to breaking news while incorporating more flexibility into its format.

"CBS," he says, "is going to be a very dynamic place for a while."

While the network slashed the news staff and closed bureaus under previous owner Laurence Tisch , Heyward says he has no plans to add bureaus or hire platoons of new people. "There is no overnight quick fix," he says, "but we have terrific people who put forth a tremendous effort. Our ability to gather news will always be solid."

A former executive producer of "CBS Evening News with Dan Rather" and CBS News vice president, Heyward, 50, says he senses new owner Westinghouse wants to invest in the network's future. "That's critical for us," he says, "and something the previous management was reluctant to do."

As for the long term, Heyward takes a philosophical view. "You've got to live life in the present," he says. "I'm only worrying about my future in the sense that I'm planning for the future of CBS News. I'm not worrying about my future."

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