WASHINGTON -- Norah O'Donnell, the incoming anchor of the "CBS Evening News" told staffers at WUSA9 that she is a "reporter at heart," and believes the best way to cover a story is to get as "close to it as you can."
O'Donnell will begin anchoring the "CBS Evening News" this summer in New York, and in the fall, transition to its permanent home in Washington, becoming the only broadcast network evening newscast based in the nation’s capital.
O'Donnell told the WUSA journalists that it would not become an inside-the-beltway newscast. Instead, she said, it will give CBS News’ journalists a unique position from which to cover the world -- not just politics.
"What happens here impacts the country and the world. We are going to provide context, depth and analysis," O'Donnell said. "What we want to do at the 'CBS Evening News' is be a source of information, not affirmation."
In May, O'Donnell was named anchor and managing editor of the CBS News flagship broadcast by Susan Zirinsky, president and senior executive producer of CBS News.
In the run-up to taking over the broadcast, O’Donnell has been visiting with CBS stations around the country. Friday she spent time with Lynn Beall, TEGNA's Executive Vice President and COO; WUSA's president and general manager Richard Dyer; and recorded promos and interviews with anchors Lesli Foster and Annie Yu.
O'Donnell said the "CBS Evening News" will be the "most trusted voice in news" and a destination for substantive reporting. There will also be a focus on digging deeper to stand out among the cacophony of voices.
"We really see that as an opportunity to differentiate ourselves," O'Donnell said. "The broadcast has to have a sense of urgency and go beyond the headlines you already know."
O'Donnell is no stranger to Washington. As a journalist of more than two decades, she has covered six presidential elections and traveled the globe to interview some of the world's most important leaders, including six of the last seven U.S. presidents. She also said her background as a mother, wife and member of a military family will enhance CBS News coverage of issues that matter to viewers around the country. That includes tackling complex issues like health care and education and give viewers analysis and news in a way that they understand.
"Our journalists are prepared to do that," she said. "We have the best journalists anywhere, and we're going to build on that. This is a legacy broadcast with a future."
She cited her work on a series of interviews called "Profiles in Service" that featured men and women serving the country in various divisions of the military for "CBS This Morning" that resonated with viewers.
"We are going to do more of those types of stories and stories that connect our humanity" she said.