CBS News - one of the most storied news organizations in existence. It is a house built by legendary reporters such as Edward R. Murrow, Walter Cronkite, and Mike Wallace. It is famous not only for its Evening News but for its newsmagazines such as 60 Minutes as well.
 
In recent years, however, the once venerable CBS News has struggled. It has not been able to find a foothold in the mornings, its once-legendary reach has been crippled by budget cuts, and the Evening News has long been in last place among the major network newscasts.


The flagship newscast airs each night at 6:30pm Eastern across the entire CBS network. The anchor chair, currently held by Katie Couric, was most famously held by two people - the legendary Walter Cronkite, and his successor Dan Rather.


Click for larger image CBS Evening News With Morton Dean
1982
Click for larger image Morton Dean with a Sunday edition of the Evening News.
 
There was actually a regulation at CBS forbidding the use of a musical theme on the Evening News. Animations were used to open the newscast, but during the early years of the Rather era even this wasn't used: just simple titles and the newscaster welcoming us to the newscast. The graphics style was used across all CBS news programs and even used on many of affiliates


Click for larger image CBS Evening News Close
1982
Click for larger image The close to the Evening News, which includes a plug for Dan Rather on weekdays. (Dan was running into some early ratings difficulties, which explains the use of reviewer quotes.) This was the "theme" that was deemed acceptable for the Evening News - a simple electronic ticker. (A version of this theme, with a melody, was used on other broadcasts.) CBS did not adopt a full orchestral theme until 1987, well after it was introduced to much success on its rivals.

Click for larger image CBS Evening News
1982
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Click for larger image CBS Evening News with Dan Rather
1991
Click for larger image Dan Rather with the news from April 1991. This was the improved visual style introduced to the Evening News in 1987, complete with a theme by John Trivers and Elizabeth Myers. The graphics are cool and corporate, and the set is given some dramatic lighting as well - a change from the extremely basic presentation of 1982.

Click for larger image CBS Evening News with Dan Rather
22.11.1991
Click for larger image Later in 1991, a bold new look was introduced to the CBS Evening News, one that relies heavily on bold reds and yellows. GRFX Novocom designed the graphics and used this look as the basis of several graphics packages used worldwide (including Sky News). Patterson, Walz, and Fox gave the theme an update to make it sound more bombastic - the theme was used, unchanged, for 15 years. To date, I believe this may be the only place I've seen the CBS eye using two different colors.
 
Right clip: Close, with melancholy music as this is the anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy.


Click for larger image CBS Evening News with Dan Rather and Connie Chung
1994
Click for larger image Notice the titles - there's a name added. To boost the ratings of the Evening News, Connie Chung was named co-anchor of the Evening News in 1993 - in this clip, she is seen here reporting from the 1994 Winter Olympics (which CBS just so happened to carry). While male/female teams are dominant in local television news, they have historically failed for the Evening News. The Chung/Rather team was a failure; Rather returned to solo anchoring in 1995. An announcer was reinstated at this point, replacing the practice of Rather introducing the broadcast.
 
Right clip: close and promos, including a nice "Experience. CBS News" end tag in the same spirit of ABC's "More Americans" graphics.


Click for larger image CBS Evening News with John Roberts
July 9, 1995
Click for larger image A Sunday edition with John Roberts who was at one time seen as the heir to Dan Rather's anchor chair on the Evening News. However, when Rather resigned under fire, Roberts was passed over for Bob Schieffer and then Katie Couric. Roberts ended up leaving CBS News for CNN, where he anchors "American Morning". The graphics are unchanged from 1991; included are an example of an open and close.

Click for larger image CBS Evening News with John Roberts
1996
Click for larger image A huge new set was built for CBS News in 1996, and along with it came a complete graphics upgrade. The new look is more muted than previous, using dark blues and reds. The Evening News is now introduced by announcer Wendell Craig, who at this point was more familiar to kids as the voice of Nickelodeon. (This was before Viacom bought CBS.)

Click for larger image CBS Evening News with Dan Rather
1998
Click for larger image The new look, with Dan Rather, from 1998. The right clip is the closing sequence, then a long "Experience" promo. Following that is a Pittard Sullivan-designed CBS News ident, from the "Welcome Home" package.

Click for larger image CBS Evening News with Dan Rather
2001
Click for larger image Another revamp is in use from 2001 - admittedly less of a drastic change. The opening titles are redone with a slick, corporate globe animation using lots of light beams. The designers, National Ministry of Design, were instructed to give the titles a "Fortune 500 company" feel. The set is little changed except for the very back of the set, which has gone from a fake monitor backdrop to three projection screens.

Click for larger image CBS Evening News with Bob Schieffer
2006
Click for larger image Dan Rather resigned under pressure on March 9, 2005. Bob Schieffer became interim anchor the next day, and brought a new style - and increased ratings - to the broadcast during his 18-month stint. This open, from his last broadcast, shows the new style in action. More attention was given to the CBS News correspondents, who would now personally deliver their teases during the opening of the broadcast. The opening animation was also shortened.
 
At this time they were rebuilding the set for Katie Couric, so the entire newscast is done from a surprisingly convincing chroma-key setup.


Click for larger image CBS Evening News with Bob Schieffer - Close
2006
Click for larger image Bob Schieffer with some closing thoughts. The last segment - a Schieffer retrospective which marked the first appearance of Katie Couric on the Evening News - was presented from the almost-finished new set, filled with Schieffer's family and supporters. After Bob delivers his closing remarks, he is greeted by applause - and then shakes the hands of CBS News boss Sean McManus and CBS Corporation president Les Moonves.

Click for larger image CBS Evening News with Russ Mitchell
2006
Click for larger image The last open and close with the Patterson/Walz/Fox theme. Russ Mitchell is one of the busier personalities at CBS News, anchoring news on The Early Show and acting as a regular substitute for the Evening News. Again, this is from the chroma-key set, but the close features stock footage taped months earlier. The close also features a plug for Wal-Mart.

Click for larger image CBS News Katie Couric Promo
2006
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Click for larger image CBS Evening News with Katie Couric
2006
Click for larger image Katie Couric's first CBS Evening News. The broadcast accordingly recieved a complete overhaul, to invoke a warmer feel. The new set is flanked by huge monitors and includes an interview set decorated with classic CBS idents. The new theme is by James Horner, composer of Titanic, and has a suitably cinematic feel. The graphics are designed by the same company as the 2001 revamp (National Ministry of Design) and are thus the least changed aspect of the look. Walter Cronkite was brought in to provide the opening announcement.

Click for larger image CBS Evening News with Katie Couric - Close
2006
Click for larger image Katie Couric - perched on the new desk! - invites viewers to submit their ideas for her new signoff. Initially, Couric's Evening News featured a more informal format, based on features and segments. Sinking ratings and immense criticism forced the broadcast to revert to a more traditional style. The Wal-Mart plug remains, but the sting after the credits has been changed... instead of "Experience", we're now invoking Ed Murrow and "See It Now".

CBS has never had a very successful beachhead in the morning, and thus the format of its morning programme has changed countless times over the years. Currently, the morning lineup includes the overnight Up To The Minute, a 30-minute "CBS Morning News", and the Early Show.


Click for larger image Sunday Morning
1980
Click for larger image Sunday Morning from 1980, with the great Charles Kuralt hosting. Easily the most distinctive news programme on American television, Sunday Morning focuses more on arts and culture and has a laid-back, relaxed style. The theme music is a version of the Trumpet fanfare "Abblasen". Note that the opening sequence displays only six days - this is intentional. During this time, CBS was using the Sunday Morning format on weekdays, as "Morning" - the weekday version eventually reverted to a more traditional style.
 
Kuralt remarks on the coming of a 60-channel future. Today, even 60 channels seems quaint!


Click for larger image CBS Q&A Promo
1980
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Click for larger image CBS Morning News with Bill Kurtis and Diane Sawyer
1982
Click for larger image By 1982, CBS' morning program was titled the "CBS Morning News" and featured Diane Sawyer with well-known Chicago anchorman Bill Kurtis. Sawyer, of course, went on to greater fame at ABC, while Kurtis eventually returned to his old post at WBBM in Chicago. Interesting open here, consisting of an LED type effect. The set is a redressed version of what CBS Sports was using for its coverage at the time.

CBS Morning News Sports Promo
1982


Click for larger image CBS News Nightwatch
1982
Click for larger image CBS News Nightwatch; CBS' first stab at an overnight newscast, with Christopher Glenn and Karen Stone. It looks VERY much like they are on one of the sets being used by the local affiliate, WCBS in New York. The title sequence is probably indicative of the general budget that went into this...

Click for larger image CBS News Nightwatch Promo
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CBS Morning News
1985
UK design doesn't take its cue from the US very often, but it's easy to see that this CBS Morning News open - from 1985 - inspired the BBC Breakfast Time graphics a few years later. It's not an exact copy - the BBC version has smoother animation - but the similarities are there. Charlie Rose and Sandy Hill handle this broadcast from a redesigned living room environment.
 
right clip - long credits from 1982


Click for larger image CBS Morning News
1994
Click for larger image John Roberts and Monica Gayle present the CBS Morning News, from 1994. The look is quite similar to the one then being used for the Evening News. While the name has been a constant in mornings, the broadcast it has been affixed to has changed considerably. Originally used for the prime 7am-9am block, it is now a brief 30 minute newscast fed at 4:30 in the morning.

Click for larger image This Morning
1990s
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CBS is home, of course, to the legendary 60 Minutes - the first newsmagazine. Beyond that, CBS struggled for years to find a worthy companion show to the Sunday night institution, even developing a "sequel" to it (60 Minutes II). The "48 Hours" format ended up proving successful, and is still used today.
 


Click for larger image 48 Hours
1989
Click for larger image Unlike most other newsmagazines, 48 Hours devotes its entire hour to one topic. In the earliest years of the programme, it would focus exclusively on the events which happened in a two day time span, thus the name. Dan Rather was assigned to anchor the newsmagazine, allegedly to prevent the type of internal infighting that killed another attempt at a newsmagazine, "West 57th". Intriguingly, one of the correspondents is Bernard Goldberg, who would go on to become a notable critic of CBS and Dan Rather.
 
The show's theme is the unmistakeable work of Edd Kalehoff. The titles use heavy CGI of a camera.


48 Hours Promo
1990


Click for larger image America Tonight
1990
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Click for larger image Columbia: The Third Journey
1982
Click for larger image When space shuttle launches were still major news, Dan Rather presents this special report on the third journey of Columbia. He anchors from the studio; the main work is done by Morton Dean at Cape Canaveral.

The CBS News bulletins most people were familiar with were arguably the least important. Newsbreaks aired several times per day, including once during primetime. These contained no filmed reports, but rather 90 seconds of an anchor reading the day's top headlines. The newsreader could be anyone from the lowest-ranking correspondent to the anchor of the CBS Evening News. With little exception, all newsbreaks pause in the middle to leave room for an ad, signaled by the familiar full-screen "NEWSBREAK NEWSBREAK NEWSBREAK" graphic.
 
One newsbreak still exists, airing during the day at 3:57pm, but is not cleared to much of the country. A growing number of affiliates swap the 3pm program to 10am in order to air more lucrative syndicated programming.


Click for larger image CBS Evening News
1978
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Click for larger image Newsbreak
1979
Click for larger image Bill Plante with Newsbreak, 1979.

Click for larger image Newsbreak
1983
Click for larger image Christopher Glenn with Newsbreak from 1983, making a somewhat rare on-camera appearance. Glenn was most familiar as the voice of "In The News", the famous Saturday morning informational segments geared towards children. The 1982 look and feel of CBS News is in full effect, with the Newsbreak titling redone in the new typeface.

Click for larger image Newsbreak
1985
Click for larger image Bob Schieffer presents this edition of Newsbreak from 1985. Notice how the sets and graphics are becoming more elaborate as time goes on.

Click for larger image Newsbreak
1987
Click for larger image Marlene Sanders, presenting from a refurbished CBS News studio in New York. The graphics have been given a brassy chrome treatment.

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