Scott Pelley’s first newscast is behind him, and for the most part, critics seem to be pleased with what they saw.
Several have praised the Texas-born Pelley for not leading Monday’s CBS EVENING NEWS with the Rep. Anthony Weiner drama. NBC’s Bryan Williams led with the story of the New York politician who held a press conference to confirm that a suggestive body photo sent via Twitter was, in fact, of himself.
At the Washington Post, Hank Stuever praised Pelley for taking the high road, leading with a six-minute-long report on Afghanistan, the five American soldiers who were just killed there, and the future of America’s involvement in the region. Stuever described it as “a ray of serious sunshine on the future of TV journalism.”
At the New York Times, Allesandra Stanley was happy that Pelley resisted leading with the late-breaking sex drama, adding that by the time Pelley did get around to mentioning the story, he asked a congressional correspondent why Weiner even mattered. Stanley says Pelley signaled that he’s a “no-nonsense news man.”
At the same time, she questioned whether he could really bring “world-class reporting” of 60 MINUTES to the nightly broadcast. She also questioned whether CBS might be subtly trying to suggest that Pelley is a return to the “glory days” of CBS News, mentioning that the gold world map behind Pelley is a replica of the map that hung behind Walter Cronkite when he was anchor of the broadcast.
Unmentioned was the fact that the network even returned to the theme music it used from 1987 until 1991.
Whether Pelley will accomplish that return to the network’s glory days remains to be seen, and that’s a question that will likely to take a long time to answer. But if his debut is any indication, the new man at the anchor desk doesn’t want it to be all about him, but about the stories and what they mean to the audience.
And isn’t that what we all want in a news anchor?