BA on Assignment

September 3, 2011

Harry Smith is the Final Straw

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Written for: Communicado Magazine
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The last time I wrote about Harry Smith was to say CBS should have made their newscast, The CBS Evening News with Harry Smith. They didn’t do that and now, Harry Smith is at NBC News. I just watched him fill in for Lester Holt. Surreal.

The last time this happened was when CBS finally got rid of Dan Rather and were looking for his replacement. John Roberts had been weekend anchor for years and was filling in until a permanent decision was made. We all knew they weren’t giving the job to John Roberts, though, he was and still is a great anchor. At the time, they were looking for star power and thus, they tapped Katie Couric. John left to go to CNN as soon as Katie got there.

While that worked well professionally, it didn’t work socially. That means, from a substantive journalistic perspective, Katie did a fantastic job. I’ve said that before. But, the average viewer was just too used to her being KATIE IN THE MORNING to stop and evaluate her performance as-is. And the viewers didn’t know her when she was a Washington reporter, which, is the ultimate training ground for the best in journalism. Now we’ve got Scott Pelley. Excellent as a 60 Minutes correspondent – not so great as an evening news anchor. I’ve said that a few times as well…

CBS has gone from having some of the best anchors and correspondents in the business to being a decided third. And its almost as if they’ve just thrown in the towel. As if the better you are, the less interested they are. And Harry Smith is the last straw, I think. He’d been there since the late 80’s when he and Paula Zahn teamed up on the morning show. Short of a brief respite in cable, that’s almost 25 years. He has great name recognition and is an outstanding anchor. I think he deserved better. Just my opinion.

So its been tough, but, I really think I have to switch my loyal news watching to ABC. The overall news quality continues to be strong while also having interesting features. That’s the best it can get in television news. And I hope Harry Smith finds great success at NBC. There is no respect in television, so, the best I can do is wish him luck. Who knows, maybe he’ll ultimately end up at ABC – they seem to be collecting all the best people and appear to be the most focused on putting a lock on the news game.