Anchor Norah O’Donnell’s move from New York to Washington gives the “CBS Evening News” a unique calling card among the three network newscasts starting Monday.
Although nightly newscasts have split home bases in the past, this will be the first time either the ABC, CBS or NBC broadcast will call Washington home full time, said news consultant Andrew Tyndall.
The move is designed in part to take advantage of O’Donnell’s strengths as a reporter with a long background in Washington, said Jay Shaylor, the broadcast’s new executive producer, who joined CBS News from CNN. CBS News built a new studio for the newscast.
O’Donnell has covered the White House, Capitol Hill and the Pentagon in her career as a reporter. She’s been anchor of the “CBS Evening News” since July.
The timing of the move would seem to be perfect, with the House Judiciary Committee beginning its impeachment hearings for President Donald Trump this week, and the 2020 presidential primary season about to begin.
Although CBS hopes to take advantage of the new location, that doesn’t mean the broadcast will become Washington-centric, Shaylor said.
“When there’s a lot of news out of Washington, we’ll cover Washington,” he said. “When there’s news across the country, we’ll cover that.”
NBC’s famed Huntley-Brinkley report in the 1960s was split between Washington and New York. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, ABC News split “World News Tonight” between London, Chicago and Washington. For more than 30 years, each broadcast has been solely based in New York.
Between remote feeds and teleconferencing, home bases take on less importance these days, Tyndall said. While Shaylor will be based in Washington, a good portion of his staff will remain in New York.
O’Donnell has been trying to bolster the newscast with original reporting. The “CBS Evening News” is in third place in the ratings, and viewership is down 10% from last season. Viewership is flat for the top-rated “World News Tonight” on ABC and down 6% for NBC’s “Nightly News.”q