Why the Evening-News Anchor Is No Longer the Most Important Person on TV

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Hosting the evening newscast turned Walter Cronkite, Dan Rather and Tom Brokaw into luminaries and national statesmen. ABC News has now declared that the person who leads that national institution no longer has to be the most important face on the screen.

This was a different decade, when the evening newscast was, along with something called a daily newspaper, a commanding source of the important news of the day. In this era of breaking tweets and smartphone alerts, however, the evening newscast has been weakened. A good chunk of people watch it, but another good chunk can’t even get home from work in time to tune it in.

These days, the best-known on-air personalities must instead be freed up to pursue original reporting and scoops that the network can “own” and blast across all of its shows, as well as digital properties.

onsider “CBS Evening News” anchor Scott Pelley’s recent trip to Jordan to cover refugees in Iraq and Syria -- a story that is likely to garner more attention and secure broader interest than his daily recital of the day’s headlines on the flagship show. In a memo to staffers about the shake-up, James Goldston, president of the ABC news division, took pains to look at the enterprise work done by both David Muir and Diane Sawyer. The importance of such efforts seems likely to increase.

Why the Evening-News Anchor Is No Longer the Most Important Person on TV