Al Ortiz, a longtime veteran of CBS News, is returning to the CBS Evening News as interim executive producer, taking the place of Jay Shaylor, who stepped down from the Norah O’Donnell-anchored newscast earlier this month.
Ortiz previously served as executive producer of CBS Evening News with Dan Rather from 1998 to 2001, and for the past seven years has been the vice president of standards and practices.
Neeraj Khemlani, president and co-head of CBS News and Stations, said in a memo to staffers, “As we looked to identify the strongest leader for the ‘CBS Evening News with Norah O’Donnell,’ it was critical to find a steady hand who could uphold the standards that have been set for this broadcast over many generations.”
Khemlani noted that Ortiz worked with O’Donnell before the newscast moved to Washington in late 2019. He started at the network in 1977 at CBS News Radio.
“His perspective is broad, his judgment is superb and his demeanor unflappable,” Khemlani wrote.
Shaylor departed the network after less than two years. Although the network has touted the narrowing of the ratings gap, CBS Evening News has remained in third place among the traditional broadcast networks. It’s also the latest in a series of changes since Khemlani and Wendy McMahon were selected to lead the newly combined news and stations divisions in April.
Khemlani’s full memo is below.
As we looked to identify the strongest leader for the “CBS Evening News with Norah O’Donnell,” it was critical to find a steady hand who could uphold the standards that have been set for this broadcast over many generations. This is why today we’re pleased to announce that Al Ortiz is being named interim executive producer of the program beginning immediately.
This is a return to the “Evening News” for Al, who worked closely with Norah leading the team before the program moved to Washington. He also worked with Norah on Election Night in 2016 and 2020. Previously, Al served as executive producer of the “CBS Evening News with Dan Rather” from 1998 to 2001 as part of an illustrious career that has spanned decades at CBS News.
Al is the consummate team player, and he will be working closely with Norah, Elizabeth Turner, Alturo Rhymes and the entire team at “Evening News” to continue to build on the show’s momentum. His deep knowledge of CBS News’ values, and the premium we place on original reporting and exquisite storytelling, will continue to distinguish the program while empowering the next generation of leaders.
No one knows news – and CBS News – like Al. He has held significant positions in virtually every editorial area. From serving on the “Evening News” and then as the executive producer of Special Events for a dozen years, and for the last seven years has been our vice president of Standards and Practices, where he’s made innumerable sensitive calls during breaking news, Election Nights, and significant historic events. His perspective is broad, his judgment is superb and his demeanor unflappable.
Al began his career at CBS News in 1977 at CBS News Radio. During an amazing run at CBS News, he has served as producer and senior producer of the “CBS Evening News,” foreign editor, London bureau chief and Washington bureau chief. Al has earned three Emmy Awards and shared a Network Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Award.
We’re in an unusual news cycle with a pandemic still raging, the pullout of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, extreme weather globally and economic uncertainty here at home. Wendy and I are confident Al, who embodies the very best of CBS News, will be an enormous asset to everyone at the program and our viewers.