Rethink Overload

Post details:
• A look at the new "Early Show" graphics

CBS News has been trying to find its voice. Since Katie Couric debuted as the anchor and managing editor of the “Evening News” in September of 2006, the news division’s flagship program has struggled for ratings even hitting rock bottom with record low numbers towards the end of last month (May 2008), according to TVNewser. What began as a refreshing take of the news – meant, I suppose for a younger audience – changed into a somewhat lackluster carbon copy of its fellow evening newscasts – meant and mainly watched by a much older demographic.

I note that this twentysomething writing this blog is a huge fan of Ms. Couric and of the newscast – including the graphics package, set and music composed by Academy Award winner James Horner.

But today I’m not writing to focus on the “Evening News.” Instead, I want to look at another CBS News program: “The Early Show.”

The show is a youngling compared to NBC’s “The Today Show” and ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “Early” premiered Nov. 1, 1999 – NBC, Jan. 14, 1952, and ABC, Nov. 3, 1975 – and is relatively still trying to find its voice.

On Monday (6/10), a new graphics package debuted, showing an investment by CBS into its morning news entity. Since I’m interested in news graphics, I have a brief history (see photo): The first logo for “Early” that I can remember was used from fall 2002 until Oct. 27, 2006. The soft logo and graphics set were replaced by a more hard-hitting look more closely resembling the newly debuted “Evening News.” I was not a fan of this period of graphics. Then at the beginning of this year, the show was rejuvenated with a nicer set and a three-dimensional, shinny logo which spun and swooped around. While an impressive logo, lower thirds were mainly static and a personal touch was missing from the graphics package, while the set was very nice and modernly designed. The new logo and open, along with lower thirds, are quite impressive. I particularly enjoy the half sun/CBS Eye logo over the title. The theme colors are vibrant and closely resemble (funny, not the “Evening News”) NBC and ABC – with used or reds and oranges; though the main logos are slightly different. The theme music was a decent upgrade from before, with hints of resemblance to James Horner’s theme. However, I would like to see anchor mugs in the open, but the anchor format is a little different than over at NBC or ABC, and there is a growing trend against longer introductions and TV titles longer than five seconds.

For all of these reasons, along with a plethora of executive producer and anchor changes, I titled this post “Rethink Overload,” for CBS is in this mode currently.

But maybe all of the changes are working…

For the 2007-2008 TV season, “Early” may have been a distant third with a 2.89 million total viewer average (compared with “Today” and “GMA” at 5.69 million and 4.76 million, respectively), but the CBS show grew the most of the three network morning shows, according to TVNewser.

With that, I wish CBS News luck. And I hope the current format of “The Early Show” will stick around for more than six months. If not, I’ll have to revisit the topic… and who wants that? :-)


I found a clip of the first 10 minutes of Monday's "Early" HERE.


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