Wow was I wrong about my Norah O’Donnell column.
No, not my opinion that the new anchor of the “CBS Evening News” is more of a channel-changer in Buffalo than a game-changer than CBS News President Susan Zirinsky thought she would be.
Through the first month with O’Donnell anchoring, the national ratings also have gone down slightly from a year ago under former anchor and Town of Tonawanda native Jeff Glor.
I was wrong about how many readers my column about O’Donnell would attract.
I expected maybe 1,000 or 2,000 visitors to the piece. Instead, it received more than 20,000 page views and became the No. 4 post in August on The Buffalo News website. And I received emails from people who live in Italy, Montana, Wisconsin, Maryland, Florida and other states.
With a few exceptions, most of the emails and reader replies supported my view that O’Donnell is an OK news reader, but nothing special and so robotic that she doesn’t exude empathy on stories that need it.
I also expressed some admiration for Kate Snow, who anchors NBC’s Sunday night newscast.
I presume Zirinsky did some focus groups before deciding that O’Donnell should replace Glor as the anchor of the prestigious newscast. If so, she must have gotten much different results from my focus group – the people who wrote emails or responded to my column on the website.
I was surprised at all the support considering I’ve learned over the years that people who disagree with my opinions are more likely to write than those who agree.
In fairness, I'm not sure even Walter Cronkite could bring the "CBS Evening News" back to its former glory because it is so deep in third place now and viewership of the network newscasts is very slow to change.
I’ve also noted it is a marathon and not a sprint and O’Donnell will get a second chance to impress viewers now that the regular TV season is coming this month.
In any event, here is an edited sampling of the comments to my O’Donnell column from near and far. (Who knew I had a reader in Montana?)
I use only the initials or the first names of those who wrote.
I couldn't agree with you more. I too find her very robotic and unfeeling. Even when the story she is covering demands a more emotional response. She appears to be unsympathetic and cold. The comparison of her to Jeff Glor is as different as night and day. D.K.
Can't agree more with what you said… Ms. O'Donnell needs to work on her ego, watch her facial and body language, try to be humble and knowing that the camera is the best truthful mirror. She was never nice to her coworkers or the guests of the morning news. She has a long way to go improving her attitude and professional skills. You might think I am from Buffalo and I am taking Jeff's side. No I am not, however, his charisma and smile is missed every single night. He deserves much better. A.S., Italy
Why all the hate on O’Donnell? Guess what: We like her. S.M
Yes. She is dismal. Total change the channel as fast as possible D.L.
Fully agree. Totally useless, ratings will never go higher, no matter what. Just like Katie (Couric) she will be pushed out in probably 1-2 years. V.R.
I think your assessment of Norah O'Donnell as an on-air news anchor is spot on! I wish I had written it myself! Dr. B.C., California
Disagree with your bias remarks. Give her a chance, please, before you bash her again. She just started, and we all know there will be people who don't like change, but new viewers will come [if negative commentary, like yours, doesn't scare them off]. Maria.
You nailed her delivery. Boring! I miss the Buffalo guy so much! K.O.
I was heartbroken when Jeff Glor was replaced. He was the best I've seen since Walter Cronkite. He fairly shared the news and was not afraid or ashamed of his emotions. Norah O'Donnell is robotic and I don't want to receive my news from a robot. I've switched to NBC although Lester Holt isn't much better. I cannot receive ABC at this time . Guess there's always FOX. S.W., Roanoke, Va.
Jeff Glor was the best. He calmly reported the news without adding his emotional input. I liked that. At times you can feel Lester Holt's attitude about a story. I don’t care how he feels about it. He shouldn’t be inflicting his opinion on others. I’ve seen David Muir be hyped in a broadcast over an issue and I turned the channel. Just tell the news unbiased. B.J., Wisconsin
I could not agree more. We've been watching Lester or David (Muir) since Jeff was taken off the air. When Jeff took over the CBS EVENING NEWS, we watched him every night and went to NBC on the weekends. It's a shame. Jeff Glor had heart and passion. He was warm, welcoming and real. Norah seems to be made of stone and has a flat affect. Thank you for your article and your honesty. S.M., Bozeman, Mont.
I am a Florida resident ... don’t think changes on nightly news or a.m. show by Zirinsky are going to be successful. Thought Jeff Glor far superior to Norah ... agree about Kate Snow. M.C.
Hey! Just wondering if anyone else was thinking the same as me. Got my answer by reading your comments. Must say I can't figure where the attraction for her so called "hard-hitting" news delivery comes in. I haven't seen it yet. I watch Lester Holt until she's gone. M.B.
My family watched consistently when Scott Pelley was on CBS Evening News. He was a great anchor and presented the news accurately and had a great sense of humor. I wished he had been named as a permanent anchor. Jeff Glor was OK and Norah O'Donnell has not really stood out with anything special, but I wish her well. Tennessee
I agree with you. I can't change the channel fast enough after the local news signs off at 6:30. Jeff Glor was an engaging and compelling newscaster. O'Donnell is a soulless bot. B.H.
Yeah, CBS made a huge mistake here. I thought Jeff Glor was quite good. This experiment is doomed for failure which will keep CBS in the cellar for another year because it will be a minimum of 6 months before an anchor change is made. The O'Donnell newscast is not good. Wake up CBS management! C.S.
Nice thumbsucker ad for your hometown boy. Here's the bottom line: Glor is a dimple-faced, pretty-boy news reader with no depth or passion, putting him in the same camp as your gal pal Kate Snow. Snow may be no pretty-boy reader but she's the opposing gender's equivalent. T.C.
I don’t live in Buffalo, but Jeff Glor was such a refreshing change from the usual anchor. I really miss him and have abandoned CBS for David Muir. Norah O’Donnell? I don’t think so. N.F.
I think Norah O’Donnell is terrific, she is professional, excellent delivery of the news, you hear the news with a steady, stable, efficient projection. This woman is good looking without being pretentious, very, very, nice appearance. I look forward to the evening world news and find Norah O’Donnell a positive addition to this evening time slot. B.O’B. Connecticut