MEDIA CRITIC LEAVING CBS JOB
Peter J. Boyer, who went from the newspaper world to television last February as the media critic on the troubled “CBS Morning News,” is returning to print on Dec. 2--as a television reporter for the New York Times.
“It’s a chance to work at the New York Times, and I’m excited about that,” Boyer said by phone over the weekend when he confirmed rumors that he is leaving the program. However, he added, “I had a great time at CBS, learned television, and enjoyed my colleagues.”
Boyer, 33, took pains to praise Johnathan Rodgers, the new executive producer of CBS’ third-in-ratings morning program. He said that staff morale had sharply risen with Rodgers’ arrival and “it would have been nice to work for him.”
However, he obliquely indicated that all had not been roses under the regime of Rodgers’ predecessor, Jon Katz. On Oct. 29, Katz was replaced as the program’s chief and given a newly created post as manager of news planning for CBS News.
“It was just a problematic moment to be a media critic at CBS News,” Boyer said when asked why he was quitting the “Morning News.” He declined to elaborate.
Although he has done stories about television for the two-hour program, Boyer reportedly chafed at what he perceived as restrictions on his freedom to report as fully on the subject of television as on the subject of print.
A former TV critic for Associated Press, Boyer worked for the Los Angeles Times, which he joined in 1981, before going to CBS. While at The Times, he reported on the movie industry and then television. He later became the newspaper’s Atlanta bureau chief.
Although he also had been a TV critic and commentator on National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition,” he never had worked in television before joining CBS on Feb. 4.
“I’m very sad to see him leave,” said Howard Stringer, CBS News executive vice president, when asked for comment on Boyer’s decision to quit the network. He said it isn’t known yet whether another media critic will be hired for the “Morning News.”
CBS has one other media critic on its payroll--Ron Powers, a Pulitzer Prize-winning former Chicago TV critic and reporter now working at “CBS News Sunday Morning.”
Boyer’s impending exit marks the latest change at the “Morning News,” which for years has struggled to become competitive with ABC Entertainment’s “Good Morning America” and NBC News’ “Today"--two programs now in a tight battle for No. 1 in morning ratings.
Last June, “Morning News” co-anchor Bill Kurtis, dissatisfied with the direction he thought the program was taking, left to rejoin CBS-owned WBBM-TV in Chicago as an anchorman.
Then, on Aug. 30, co-anchor Phyllis George, criticized for her on-air gaffes and lack of journalistic experience, also resigned after eight months with the program. She cited personal and professional reasons for leaving.
Two relative unknowns, Forrest Sawyer and Maria Shriver, now co-anchor the program.
The “Morning News” doubtless will be among the topics discussed this week during scheduled closed-door meetings in Laguna Beach between CBS executives and members of the network’s affiliate board.