"Russ Mitchell, current anchor of the CBS Evening News weekend editions and The Early Show on Saturday, and national correspondent for CBS News Sunday Morning, the CBS Evening News, and The Early Show will be joining the staff of WKYC as Managing Editor Evening News and lead anchor of the 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. newscasts beginning January 16, 2012," the Cleveland NBC affiliate announced on Wednesday.
"I've been looking to get back to local TV for a while," Mitchell told Journal-isms, "where I can be part of the editing process, and where I can live and work and my family could live.
"I talked to a number of stations around the country, and none was the right fit for us. This is the right fit personally and professionally."
As an anchor, Mitchell is CBS' most visible black journalist. He was mentioned as a replacement for Katie Couric as anchor and managing editor of the "CBS Evening News," but the job went this year to Scott Pelley of "60 Minutes."
The Pelley appointment prompted an open letter to network executives and editors in June from Kathy Times, then president of the National Association of Black Journalists.
". . . The Big 3 networks and cable news channels have undergone a series of rare changes behind the desk. While the replacements are all seasoned journalists, what is glaringly missing in the flurry of changes is the failure to elevate African Americans to any of these positions," she wrote.
". . . As America inches toward a world that is more black and brown, corporations are adjusting their cultures to embrace diversity because they know it makes good business sense. But too many network executives are ignoring this reality.
"Russ Mitchell of CBS News, Lester Holt of NBC News, and CNN's T.J. Holmes are weekend warriors who possess charisma, journalistic heft, and the handsome qualities to front a prime-time show. Mitchell's poise and professional bearing as he commandeered the historic announcement of Osama bin Laden's death surely put to rest any doubt about his prime-time readiness. Holt has been the go-to guy as a substitute for vacationing 'stars,' but his primary shift is the weekend."
The story from Gannett-owned WKYC continued, " 'I've thoroughly enjoyed my years at CBS and the challenges and excitement of a network role,' stated Mr. Mitchell, 'but I've been offered a unique opportunity to help create the next generation of local news in a great place and have a key role in trying to make a difference in a wonderful community.'
" "Russ's breadth of experience and his passion for our industry and our local mission is unparalleled," remarked President and General Manager Brooke Spectorsky. "2012 will be a pivotal year for Northeast Ohio with everything from major economic projects to a Presidential election. Russ will help position Channel 3 News to take an even greater leadership role as the trusted source of news and information in our region.'
" 'I'm a Midwestern guy. I'm used to hard work, I get the weather, and I can't wait to settle my family in a community where local news can still make a difference,' said Mr. Mitchell. 'Channel 3 has the courage and conviction to do the kind of news that goes beyond reporting "what is" to foster a vision of "what could be." And I find that truly exciting.' "
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Journal-isms is published on the site of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education (www.mije.org). Reprinted on The Root by permission.