Since 2004, Jeff Fager has been the steward of 60 Minutes, the crown jewel of CBS News that has withstood the fast-changing media information landscape and remained a ratings hit. On Tuesday he was tapped to the new role of chairman of the CBS News at a time when the division has to make some big decisions about the future. The Biz talked to him about his new role and what's ahead.
TV Guide Magazine: This announcement is a little bit of a surprised because you've been asked to do this be job before.
Fager: Not this. President.
TV Guide Magazine: So how is this different?
Fager: We've got a president. David Rhodes who is an incredibly capable guy who is going to run the day to day and report to me. This is much more big picture. That's why it's very different and incredibly exciting.
TV Guide Magazine: What exactly is on your agenda as the big picture guy?
Fager: We're not going to get into that. The important thing is if you look at 60 Minutes and everything we stand for. The quality of the storytelling. The original reporting. All of those things we pour ourselves into — how we report our stories, the kind of stories. That's what I want to do with CBS News. If you want to know where I want to take this news organization, that's where.
TV Guide Magazine: Are you going to look at broader relationship with another news organization (such as Bloomberg or CNN)?
Fager: I'm not going to rule anything out. Who knows what might come up? Our goal is going to focus on CBS News.
TV Guide Magazine: Do you think CBS News can sustain itself on its own?
Fager: I believe so. I think there are all kinds of opportunities for us including online. Our iPad app for 60 Minutes has been very successful here. It has been the top selling app in the news category since it launched four months ago. We're going to work more in terms of tablets with CBS News as well.
TV Guide Magazine: The big question is what's going to happen with Katie Couric when her contract runs out later this year.
Fager: I think it is a big question. I've got to spend some time with her, which we're doing in the days ahead.
TV Guide Magazine: For a while, it sounded like CBS News was on track for an extension of her contract, but now maybe not so much.
Fager: Yeah. I can't answer that now. I really need to spend some time with her.
TV Guide Magazine: Along with 60 Minutes, what shows are working best at CBS News?
Fager: CBS Sunday Morning and 48 Hours. Susan Zirinsky does an amazing job at 48 Hours and deserves so much credit. Bob Scheiffer is doing great on Face the Nation. He's a solid number two. Look, the CBS Evening News and The Early Show are number three and that's not good. So we've got to work on them.
TV Guide Magazine: What do you think of the new team at The Early Show?
Fager: You know what, I'm not going to get into that. I'm going to have to spend some time with them.