The CBS Evening News Without Scott Pelley Lottery

Has It Come To This?

PRESS RELEASE CBS NEWS

Bill Belsome Jr. will anchor the CBS Evening News next week, it was announced today (August 2) by Jeff Fager, Chairman of CBS News, and David Rhodes, President of CBS News.

Belsome, 23, an intern in the CBS cafeteria, won this week’s drawing in the CBS Evening News Without Scott Pelley lottery.

In a brief telephone interview, Belsome said, “I can’t believe they picked me. My Mom and Dad are going nuts. In fact, Mom is out right now buying me a new shirt and Dad has promised to help me work on saying some of the tougher words like that place in the Ukraine ‘donut-ska,’ and that Israeli guy ‘knit-ting-yahoo.’ ”

The statement by Fager and Rhodes said, “We’ve had our eye on Bill Belsome since he joined our intern staff two years ago fresh out of Duke. He’s young, smart, energetic and anyone who has seen how hard he works in the cafeteria knows he has a bright future. We think our viewers are in for a treat next week.”

Previous winners of the CBS News Without Scott Pelley lottery include James Brown, Margaret Brennan, Maurice Dubois and Buster Keaton.

(Posted August 4, 2014)

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Move Over, Scott, It's Ted Time On The Evening News

Steve Capus

CBS Evening News

Executive Producer

Dear Mr. Capus,

Boy you do love those animal stories! Good for you. Keep’em coming. They are delightful and make my day. I suspect millions of other viewers feel the same way. One night last week you had me screaming in ecstasy with that video of a woman throwing something from a car to a bear, and the bear catching it with his right hand. By golly that was fantastic! Not to second-guess you and your wonderful staff, but was any thought given to maybe leading the broadcast with that video? Admittedly, not all that important in the grand scheme of things, but what an incredible sight to see a bear catching with his right hand. I trust crews are on alert for another bear, or perhaps even the same one, catching something with his left hand. Please don’t keep us waiting long. Get tape of that sucker and put it on the air ASAP! I thank you in advance.

After that broadcast, I had an idea. With your devotion to things furry AND the movie Ted 2 being released in a little over a week, why not contact Seth McFarlane and see if he would like to put Ted on the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley? The way I see it Ted could take some of the load off Mr. Pelley. Let Ted say those pithy, meaningful—sometimes even—profound things after a correspondent finishes his or her report. I understand the News Division has different standards than the Entertainment Division (at least that’s what Fred at the gym says), so you couldn’t have Ted interviewing correspondents, at least not right away. Maybe down the road someday.

Mr. Capus, I truly believe many, many of your viewers would find it both entertaining and informative if Ted was on your broadcast, if ever so briefly, supplying tag lines or whatever they are called. I’m being bold enough to include a list of possible Scott-like lines for Ted to say:

“Bullseye!”

“You betcha.”

“Bully, bully.”

“Hubba, hubba.”

“New York, New York, it’s a wonderful town”

“Amen to that.”

“Big trouble in the Windy City.”

“Stories like that one show you, money isn’t everything.”

“There will be lots more on this breaking story on CBS This Morning, CBS dot com, and the outdoor TV screens at your local Exxon station.”

“That poor family has been through so much and is in all our thoughts and prayers.”

When Ted fired off these gems, he would be shown moving his pelvis like Elvis.

While I’m writing, let me say I’m also a big, big fan of lava flows. God bless you for showing us what seems to be every lava flow in the universe. You and your wonderful staff at the CBS Evening News have saved me and others tons of money. Why waste our hard-earned cash running around the globe to see lava flows when you’ve provided them to us for absolutely nothing. You are a good, good person, Mr. Steve Capus.

Sincerely,

Anthony “Tiny Tony” Monroe

P.S. I know you won’t forget about that bear video. Call me a silly goose if you want, but if this Ted thing went well I don’t think it’s out of the question that you might decide to ask Ted to sit in some night for Mr. Pelley. Wouldn’t that be fun.

(Posted June 10, 2015)

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Hello Again, Mr. Rhodes

Mr. David Rhodes

President, CBS News

524 West 57th Street

New York, New York 10019

Dear Mr. Rhodes,

Although you haven’t responded to any of my previous letters, please be aware that I am a new CBS shareholder (and have a statement from Chase Investments to prove it), so maybe now you will feel obliged to give my suggestions at least a modicum of consideration.

Let me begin by apologizing. Yes, I was the guy in the Yankees baseball hat who yelled at you the other day outside the Holiday Inn on 57th Street. For some reason, I thought a young fellow like you might be amused if a guy in his late 70s screamed, “I have furniture older and smarter than you.” I realize now that you didn’t find that funny. Maybe it was my delivery. I have a terrible habit of rushing and running my words together when I see someone famous. Again, I apologize. I was out of line. (Let me add that I have nothing against people considerably younger than I am. It’s just that there seem to be so damn many of you these days.)

Now to the business at hand. I have a few suggestions for improving the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley, suggestions that I believe would make it a better television broadcast, increase its audience and also save CBS shareholders, of which I am now one, some money.

Suggestion number 1: Hire Brian Williams as your anchor. Can you imagine the press play and the audience numbers? Would that be a game-changer, getting CBS out of that awful, perpetual third-place finish? So what if the sky-high numbers lasted only a week or two? So what if it upset the veteran journalists in your shop? They complain all the time anyway, right? With Brian Williams in the anchor seat, the CBS Evening News could brag that it was number one for a spell. I’m sure my fellow shareholders wouldn’t squawk if the News Division splurged and bought hundreds of those big foam fingers for the staff, like the ones they sell at ballparks. Wouldn’t that be a hoot?

Should you not cotton to suggestion number one, suggestion number 2: Get rid of Pelley as the anchor. In fact, don’t have an anchor at all. Shake things up. An anchored broadcast is so predictable, dull and stale. Let reporters on the scene introduce themselves and their pieces. This would bring a fresh perspective to the show. If you went this route, it would be a good idea to tell reporters they wouldn’t be expected to question themselves at the end of their pieces. As you know, Pelley loves to talk to reporters after their pieces, and the result is almost always predictable, dull, stale. What good reporter would leave out important information and wait for the anchor to drag it out of her?

Suggestion number three: If under your leadership you feel it is necessary for CBS News reporters to be thanked on the air for doing their jobs, why not hire a parrot or a bunch of parrots? After a reporter finishes a story, cut to one of the parrots and let him say, “Thank you very much. Thank you very much.” A parrot saying this wouldn’t sound half as silly as highly-paid talent doing it. This bit with the parrot could add some spark to the broadcast. You might even want to extend the parrot’s on-camera time by having the stage manager throw a nut in the air and see if the parrot on duty that night could catch it. If this feature became popular, you could have viewers tweeting their asses off about it and maybe even stream across the screen a little scoreboard about how the parrots were doing catching nuts. This statistic might well become as important to many viewers as the daily stock market numbers.

Suggestion number four: In its current configuration the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley seems obsessed with showing video of animals, so let me ask, have you thought of doing an all-animal newscast? Warm, cozy footage of pets and wild animals doing their things, maybe with a little kid in a shot or two. Say a puppy with a bad leg limping home in a snow storm or a cat wearing a hat and making funny faces and scratching herself like crazy. Millions of viewers would love this. Whatever news there was that day that really had to be told could be done with crawls and graphics. Don’t reject this out of hand as ludicrous. You want to get those rating numbers up or not?

Suggestion number five: Invite a studio audience in for the Evening News around 4 p.m. Eastern and let it decide on that night’s lineup. Members of the audience would look at the pieces being worked on (they wouldn’t have to be finished) and vote on what stories they want to see and in what order. The Evening News lineup changes some nights after the first feed when you’ve seen what the competition leads with so why would letting average viewers decide what’s on the show be any worse, any more wishy-washy?

That’s it for now. As a CBS shareholder, I feel entitled to send along other ideas from time to time. Again, please accept my apologies for yelling at you the other day. It’s a meager defense, but what I said wasn’t half as bad as what I scream at the TV most nights when I watch your Evening News.

Sincerely,

Larry McCoy

(Posted February 19, 2015)

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Asking Mom And Dad About "Layers Of Meaning"

Dear Mom and Dad,

Sorry for being so lazy and not writing more often. When you were here I never thanked you enough, but you should know I am extremely grateful that I came down the chute way back in 1937. If you had waited until 1947 to have me, I would have had all kinds of problems keeping a job, at least in journalism.

It was reported this week that NBC is in cahoots with something called NowThis News. (Since many of us mumble constantly these days, it’s very trendy to run words together in print too. I suppose during the Second Coming some news outlets will refer to Him as JesusChrist.) NowThis News produces short news videos, and one of the guys involved in the operation was quoted in The New York Times as saying, “We are serious about doing six-, 10- and 15-second serious news segments.” (Miss Hattie Campbell at Frankfort High School would have put a big red X through any sentence that used the word “serious” twice.) According to the paper, a second big shot conceded that 15 seconds allowed for only limited reporting, but “the company expected viewers to have a base of knowledge and that their videos could ‘add layers of meaning and context’ to a story.” Help me out here, Folks. Do you see this as an advance in communications as well as baking?

If only I had known during all those years of writing pieces for UPI, ABC, RFE and CBS that I should be adding layers of meaning instead of just telling a story. Back in my days at UPI National Radio, Bob Buckhorn, a heck of a nice guy and a fine editor, frequently told me my copy didn’t have “pace.” He never said a word about layers or layering.

Had I known how to layer, would CBS News not have fired me? Would some of the Australian chaps at the Central Newsroom in RFE accepted my criticism of their work more willingly if I had had the brains to say, “Nigel, this is okay, but it really lacks layers. Can’t you rewrite it and add two or three more layers?”

Does too many layers in a news story make it dense? Can you ask around up there—there’s at least one or two journalists with you, no?—and run a few of these questions by someone who worked in news? I do thank you.

I assume the men quoted in The New York Times are smart, educated fellows but where do they learn to talk like that? When I read such stories, I remember what Grandma Smith did when I said silly or vulgar things. You guys probably don’t realize how many times she washed my mouth out with soap. By the way, when you see her tell her I know that one time she used a ball of pie dough. I went along with her game and cried anyway, though it was nice of her to substitute the pie dough for that old smelly, home-made soap.

Do you ever see the CBS News With Scott Pelley or are you too busy up there with more important things? I’ve complained to you before about the low regard for the craft of editing down here. Last May the Pelley broadcast described Mother’s Day as a “national holiday.” Under those high standards I suppose Groundhog Day is a national holiday too. Can you talk to the lightning bolt people and suggest a test firing sometime soon in the vicinity of West 57th Street in Manhattan?

A couple of months ago a correspondent on the CBS Evening News reported that an emergency evacuation slide had deployed while a passenger plane was in flight. The correspondent said the plane “landed safely” and all the passengers got off. And? And? Was anyone hurt? Viewers were never told.

Last summer one of the big New York City stations told its listeners that “summer travel will probably pick up over the summer.” I’ll try to find out where they’re located in Manhattan so maybe you can arrange a second test firing of a lightning bolt.

I’d better close. I’ve got to get my ski gear organized for a small trip this weekend. Love you, miss you and thanks in advance for the lightning bolts.

Love,

Larry

(Posted January 15, 2014)

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 pe your paragraph here.