Long-time CBS newsman Russ Mitchell is leaving the national network for a job in local television.
Mitchell has been the face of CBS News on weekends since the 1990s, seen on the network’s weekend evening newscasts and its Saturday morning show. He’s trading all that in, however, for an anchor job on WKYC-TV in Cleveland, a station owned by NBC.
The news is being reported on the TV Newser Web site here.
The story even included an internal e-mail memo from CBS News President David Rhodes announcing the news to CBS News staff.
“After working with CBS News for nearly two decades, Russ Mitchell has decided to take the weekends off,” the e-mail said. “Russ, who has made a great contribution to CBS News since joining in 1992, will leave at the end of the year to take another opportunity outside of CBS News.”
Why would a newsman leave a position on national TV for local television? Far-fetched as it may sound, it’s not that unusual for Mitchell to do this.
Our take is: Prominent anchor jobs — on national TV or on local stations in some of the biggest TV markets (and believe it or not, Cleveland is a pretty big TV city, serving a big region in Ohio) — don’t grow on trees. And when one comes along, it’s worth considering.
There’s no statement from Mitchell in the TV Newser story, but another site devoted to comings-and-goings in the TV news biz, TV Spy, had a statement from Mitchell: The statement said he “thoroughly enjoyed” working at CBS, and is now looking forward to “a unique opportunity to help create the next generation of local news in a great place and have a key role in trying to make a difference in a wonderful community.”
We suspect that this new job might have some very tangible benefits for a guy like him: Job stability, local TV stardom (or, to put it another way, an opportunity to be a big fish in a small pond), a weekday schedule instead of a weekend one, and money (local TV news anchors are still well-paid, especially anchors like Mitchell).
We also suspect that, for whatever reason, Mitchell may have been growing tired of working the weekend newscasts, and CBS gave its most prominent weekday spots — on “Evening News” and “The Early Show” (soon to be rebooted as “CBS This Morning”) — to others recently, signaling that he really had no options for his future at CBS other than remaining on the weekend shows.
So Russ Mitchell looked elsewhere. There was no word on who would emerge as the new face of CBS News on weekends.