Bill Owens has been named executive producer of CBS’ venerable newsmagazine 60 Minutes, filling a role that has been vacant since September, when Jeff Fager, the longtime CBS News executive and EP, was forced to step down amid allegations of inappropriate conduct at the network news division.
Owens had been executive editor since June 2008. His appointment was announced Wednesday by Susan Zirinsky, the incoming president and senior executive producer of CBS News.
“Bill Owens is steeped in the storytelling style audiences have come to expect from 60 Minutes,” said Zirinsky. “He has led the broadcast to some of its most important and timely journalism these past few months, during one of its most crucial periods. We are fortunate to be able to put such a talented veteran in charge of this iconic program. I am confident that with Bill and the seasoned team of journalists involved in this broadcast you will see more of the kind of work that’s made 60 Minutes the most-watched news program in America.”
He becomes the third-ever EP on the newsmag, the longest-running primetime program in history, after Don Hewitt and Fager.
Owens is definitely an in-house pick: he began his journalism career in 1988 as a summer intern for CBS News. He eventually became a national desk assignment editor, field producer and desk assistant for CBS News and WCBS-TV. He later became a CBS News senior White House producer and helped cover Bill Clinton’s impeachment. He also was the anchor producer for Paula Zahn and Harry Smith on CBS This Morning.
Owens joined 60 Minutes as Senior Broadcast Producer in 2007 from the same role on CBS Evening News after producing segments with Scott Pelley for 60 Minutes and 60 Minutes II. In 2010 he helped launch 60MinutesOvertime.com, and in 2012 he co-executive produced and launched Showtime’s 60 Minutes Sports.
Since being named executive editor, he has helped oversee the production of nearly 1,000 stories from conception through broadcast.
“To be named the executive producer of 60 Minutes is an inspiring responsibility and a privilege,” Owens said. “I am honored to work alongside the best journalists in the business who cover the most important stories from around the world. I promise that will never change.”
Zarinsky was named January 6 to take over for CBS News president David Rhodes. She will become the first woman to ever helm the news division when she officially takes over for Rhodes as president and senior executive producer on March 1. She had been thought to be a replacement for Fager at 60 Minutes before her promotion, which was announced on Golden Globes night.