Tuesday, May 06, 2014 7:23 am
Steve Capus joins CBS evening newscast as top exec
Capus left NBC in 2013 after eight years as president of the news division, part of a turnover triggered by troubles at the "Today" show. He was Tom Brokaw's last executive producer at NBC's "Nightly News" and is close to Brian Williams, whom he will now compete with each night.
Capus will also have broader responsibilities as executive editor of CBS News, behind chairman Jeff Fager and President David Rhodes.
He will replace Pat Shevlin, who has transferred to "60 Minutes."
Division-wide and at Pelley's newscast, CBS favors a more meat-and-potatoes news approach than its rivals. But it has been unable to climb out of third place in the ratings, and lately second-place ABC has shown more life, with "World News" beating Williams' NBC telecast three out of four weeks in a youthful demographic, although not among all viewers.
"The broadcast has done better," Rhodes said, "but we've been in third place for a long time and we don't want to be."
The evening news has worked to differentiate itself from its rivals, and Rhodes said he hopes Capus can bring out more distinctiveness with his experience running a top-rated evening newscast and news division.
Since leaving NBC, Capus has been executive in residence at the IESE Business School in New York, where he will continue to have a role.
"I'm excited to get back in the control room," said Capus, who said he has been discussing the possibility of coming to CBS News with Rhodes for the past few weeks. He said he, Fager and Rhodes share a sensibility in how to position CBS News strategically for the coming years.
He praised the evening news reporting staff and said he would like to push for more investigative and enterprise reporting in the broadcast.
The three network evening newscasts have long defied predictions of their demise and are collectively watched by more than 20 million viewers a night. It is notoriously hard to change viewing habits at that time, and the pecking order of NBC in first, ABC in second and CBS in third has essentially been unchanged for more than a decade.
As a division, CBS has seen gains for its weekday morning show and on the weekend, "Sunday Morning" and "Face the Nation" have both been strong and leading in the ratings. It has been a tougher year at the flagship "60 Minutes," where correspondent Lara Logan remains on leave for a discredited Benghazi story.
For Capus, it will be unusual to compete against Williams, a newscaster he began working with in local Philadelphia news in 1986.
"We've been friends for a long time and now we'll be competitors but the friendship will endure," he said. "It will be a bit unusual to be in the opposing dugout."
David Bauder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter@dbauder. His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/david-bauder.