BOSTON (CBS) – Norah O’Donnell, the incoming “CBS Evening News” anchor and managing editor, told journalists at WBZ-TV that the nightly national newscast will go beyond the headlines to give viewers context, clarity and depth.
“Americans are busy, and their time is valuable,” O’Donnell said during her visit to the station Wednesday. “Where is the one place you can go to get a full understanding of what’s happening not only in America but around the world? We want to be that destination.”
O’Donnell said that approach will be important going into Campaign 2020, which she called the “most important” presidential election of our lifetime. The “CBS Evening News,” O’Donnell said, will showcase CBS News’ deep bench of political journalists reporting on issues that matter instead of “horse race” coverage.
“We have to be in the business of fact-checking, and we have to build on the trust of our audience. I think that’s a way CBS can win,” O’Donnell said. “People are hungry and craving for an independent source of news.”
CBS News President and senior executive producer Susan Zirinsky named O’Donnell anchor and managing editor of the “CBS Evening News” last month. She will begin anchoring the broadcast in New York July 15, and the “CBS Evening News” will move to its new home in Washington, D.C., in the fall.
“What happens in Washington affects the world,” O’Donnell told her colleagues in Boston. “Every story has a nexus in Washington.”
O’Donnell also stressed that the new “CBS Evening News” will not be an inside-the-beltway broadcast; the move to Washington “will give CBS News unique access to lawmakers and allow us to dig in on the reporting.”
To that end, O’Donnell said that as a mom and the member of a military family, she cares deeply about issues that affect American families. Her background, she said, will inform the types of stories that will be featured every evening.
“We will focus on real news that matters,” she said. “How can we tell the audience something they don’t know?”
Prior to being named the new anchor of the “CBS Evening News,” O’Donnell spent seven years as a co-host on “CBS This Morning.” She has spent the past few weeks visiting CBS stations around the country. In Boston, she spent time with WBZ-TV president and general manager Mark Lund, vice president and news director Johnny Green and recorded promos and interviews with anchors Lisa Hughes, David Wade and Steve Burton.
Before taking the anchor chair, O’Donnell has established a reputation as a trusted voice, landing headline-making interviews. Among those interviews have been Apple CEO Tim Cook and Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg.
Throughout her career, O’Donnell has reported from virtually every continent while traveling with a president or cabinet secretary, covered the last six presidential elections, and interviewed major newsmakers from the worlds of politics, entertainment, sports and more. O’Donnell said she will draw on all of those experiences in her new role.
“We want to help Americans reveal the world to itself,” she said.