On their first day on the job, McMahon and Khemlani wrote in a memo to employees that they are “in position to build at scale the premier local-to-global streaming news experience. By harnessing the power of our teams, we will be able to provide unparalleled, expansive on-the-ground reporting. That means reporters from New York to LA, Chicago to Dallas, London to Beijing and everywhere in between—all poised to deliver a choreography of coverage, a greater Eye on America and Eye on the world.”
They also announced plans to expand CBS News’ Race and Culture Unit across their station and digital groups. Three more cities will be added to the local iterations of their streaming service, CBSN: Sacramento, Baltimore and Miami.
McMahon and Khemlani were named to the combined roles leading the news and stations divisions after Susan Zirinsky announced that she was stepping down as president of CBS News. She had been head of the news division since 2019, and officially handed off duties in an editorial call on Monday.
Instead of naming a successor to lead CBS News, CBS chief George Cheeks decided to combine the news and stations roles and appoint co-leaders. The previous head of the CBS stations group, Peter Dunn, was ousted following a Los Angeles Times investigation of the work environment in the stations division. Also ousted was David Friend, who had overseen news at the division.
The complete memo is below:
As we officially step into our new roles today, we want to share how excited we are to be back at CBS. As many of you know, we both spent formative parts of our careers here. This certainly feels like a homecoming.
We, along with the millions of people who engage with CBS News, Digital and Television Stations every day, have great admiration for the work you do. It reflects the highest standards in our industry, and it makes coming back to help write the next chapters of the Company’s history so compelling.
In just the past few weeks, we saw Juror 52 from the Chauvin trial on “CBS This Morning”; the Fed Chairman Jerome Powell on “60 Minutes”; former President George W. Bush on “CBS Evening News”; French President Macron on “Face the Nation”; an ongoing investigation of California’s unemployment benefits program on KCBS; in-depth reporting on anti-Asian violence on CBSN; and the release of a man who had been imprisoned for nearly 32 years thanks to 20-plus years of reporting at “48 Hours.” Our future depends on your exceptional journalism.
We fully embrace the vision George Cheeks has for this new division – News, Stations and Digital working hand-in-hand – creating a new pathway to the future. It’s a bold outlook that gives us opportunities to innovate and grow. One strategy, built on a foundation of important journalism, the relevance of our local stations and the clear promise of streaming.
We have big ambitions that will be realized by bringing the thousands of people of CBS News, Stations and Digital together in creating an unmatched media organization, with each and every one of us—in front of and behind the camera—fully invested in and accountable for our broadcast strength and digital future.
We’ve been able to see in recent days how collaboration and creativity make CBS stronger. With WCCO, CBSN Minnesota, network news, special events, radio and Newspath teams working together covering the Chauvin trial, CBS stood out on every platform during this landmark event. Similarly, we had an advantage when a reporter for both WBBM and CBS News was one of the first journalists on the scene of the shooting at the FedEx facility in Indianapolis. This is just a glimpse at how we can use our scale and expertise across the division to serve audiences on all platforms.
This new vision is unique to CBS – we are not saddled with the siloed structures and business models of our competitors. We are already in position to build at scale the premier local-to-global streaming news experience. By harnessing the power of our teams, we will be able to provide unparalleled, expansive on-the-ground reporting. That means reporters from New York to LA, Chicago to Dallas, London to Beijing and everywhere in between—all poised to deliver a choreography of coverage, a greater Eye on America and Eye on the world.
We cannot tell the stories of America without a deep commitment to reflecting the audiences we serve both in our coverage and in our culture. To that end, we will be expanding CBS News’ Race and Culture Unit across our station and digital groups, ensuring that we are elevating the voices of our under-represented communities. Second, we are excited to continue growing our local news streaming footprint, with launches in three more cities this year: Sacramento, Baltimore and Miami.
As we grow and evolve, our unbiased reporting and the artful way in which we craft our stories will continue to be our signature, setting us apart from the competition. It’s what makes a CBS News story…a CBS News story. It’s the soul of CBS News and the soundtrack that powers an ethos of optimism at “CBS Sunday Morning”; a veritable feast of culinary, literary and musical profiles on “CBS This Morning Saturday”; and hard-hitting reporting and far-flung adventures to the farthest corners of the globe on “60 Minutes” and all of our broadcasts. It’s the breaking news on stories that matter, from wildfires and floods to the high-impact investigations that hold local officials accountable. It’s bringing to life the local characters in the communities we call home. There is no mistaking what we do and how we do it.
As we move forward, we want to acknowledge the force that is Susan Zirinsky for her indelible mark on CBS News, and how she has sharpened the organization in nearly every way during her tenure as President. Z has provided the strong foundation we continue to build upon starting today. As only she can, Z has made this transition smooth, insightful and exhilarating.
In the coming days, we will be meeting with every team across the division. In the meantime, please know that we’re aware you have questions about how we will operate going forward. We will be in touch very soon with more specifics.
What we can say on Day 1 is that we are committed to working and winning together as a team, unified in our pursuit of great journalism and in our support of one another.
Wendy and Neeraj