Scott Pelley made his debut as anchor of the CBS Evening News Monday night. He may have inherited the desk from Katie Couric, but you could tell from the replica of the Walter Cronkite-era world map that formed Pelley’s backdrop that he would be doing things a bit differently. Critics, by and large, praised his decision not to lead with Rep. Anthony Weiner — in fact, Pelley didn’t even mention the story in his opening tease. Instead, he opened with correspondent’s Mandy Clark embedded report on what the fight is like for U.S. troops trying to stop the enemy from crossing into Afghanistan from their hideouts in Pakistan and updated us on what’s next in the battles in Afghanistan and Iraq. Only after a report on a promising new cancer treatment was it time for Pelley to ask a colleague, “Help us understand why Congressmen Weiner matters.” It was a smart move. He established that his 60 Minutes news judgment made the jump with him and avoided any of the heat that Couric took on her first night — Sept. 5, 2006 — when, during the course of the telecast, she showed a first look at the Vanity Fair cover with the first photo of Suri Cruise.
It’s interesting to read the reviews that greeted Pelley, and realize that if you didn’t know that the star-powered, yet accessible and conversational Couric experiment had failed, and this was a purposeful return to CBS’ traditional delivery, you might not know whether they were positive or negative. Maybe you still don’t know…Take, for instance, The New York Times‘ Alessandra Stanley on Pelley:
Only time (and ratings) will tell if viewers in 2011 truly want a retreat from “news-o-tainment.” But what’s your gut tell you?
Katie Couric to host talk show under Disney-ABC deal