Veteran producer Bill Owens is officially taking over the reins of the venerable CBS News program “60 Minutes,” the network announced Wednesday.
Owens, 52, succeeds Jeff Fager, who was fired from CBS News in September after sending a threatening text message to a correspondent who was reporting on allegations of inappropriate workplace behavior that were being investigated by the company.
Owens has served as executive editor of the program since June 2008. His promotion makes him the third executive producer in the 50-year history of “60 Minutes,” which is the most-watched news program on television.
Owens has been running the program on an interim basis since Fager’s departure. The other candidate for the position was Susan Zirinsky, who was named president of CBS News last month, replacing David Rhodes. Owens will now report to Zirinsky, the former executive producer of the CBS newsmagazine “48 Hours.”
Owens was a favorite inside the halls of “60 Minutes,” where change has never been welcome. He joined the program in 2003 as a producer. He has been with CBS News since 1988, when he joined as an intern working on the national political conventions.
“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.”
In a memo to staff, Zirinsky said Owens is “a tremendous leader and will be a great partner at CBS News.” Her note also indicated that she believes the program’s days of being known for having a hostile work environment for women are behind it.
“We are in a new era,” Zirinsky wrote. “As an organization, and as an industry, we are forever changed.”