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 AJR  The Beat

From AJR,   November 1998  issue

Leissner Is More   

CBS News picks a new Washington bureau chief.


By Stephanie Doster
Stephanie Doster, a former AJR editorial assistant, is a reporter for New Orleans' Times-Picayune.     


When CBS News named Janet Leissner vice president and Washington bureau chief, the 14-year network veteran took a little time to slip into her new role. A few hours, as a matter of fact.
She left her position as senior producer for the ``CBS Evening News with Dan Rather " in New York September 9, and officially began her new job in Washington the next morning, just as news of the Starr report's release hit the nation.
Leissner, 48, says the current state of affairs makes for ``a particularly fascinating time in Washington." She previously worked in CBS' Washington bureau as a producer and senior producer from 1984 to 1996.
Returning to Washington ``has always been a dream of mine," Leissner says. ``It's great. I couldn't be happier."
In her new position, vacated by Al Ortiz , now executive producer of the evening news, Leissner will oversee the bureau's newsgathering, personnel and technical operations.
It was Leissner's combination of Beltway savvy and Big Apple experience that led CBS to offer her the job.
``Her Washington knowledge [combined] with her new experience of helping to produce the `Evening News' helped give her the edge," says CBS News President Andrew Heyward .
Leissner says one of her goals is to remind newsmakers CBS is the place to come to make and break news.
``I want to bolster CBS correspondents' profiles," she says. ``I want to give our Washington correspondents a crack at contributing to all CBS broadcasts, including `60 Minutes II,' " which is slated to debut in January.
Although Leissner says her new job combines the best of overseeing coverage and managing the Washington staff, she will miss being directly involved in production. Her CBS production work includes the TWA Flight 800 crash coverage, ``Eye on America" reports and the late-night news program ``America Tonight," broadcast during the Persian Gulf War.
``Once a producer, always a producer. Of course I'll miss it," she says. ``But this is a great opportunity."