February 7, 2023

Media Decoder: For ‘CBS This Morning,’ Showtime Has Arrived

Erica Hill, left, Charlie Rose and Gayle King, the hosts.John Filo/CBS NewsErica Hill, left, Charlie Rose and Gayle King, the hosts.

It is exceedingly rare for a new television newscast to be made almost entirely from scratch, as is the case with “CBS This Morning,” which will replace “The Early Show” on Monday morning.

Many of the producers and talent bookers for “CBS This Morning” are new to the network, as are two of the three anchors, Charlie Rose and Gayle King.

The anchors will sit in a brand new studio and host new segments, joined by a number of new contributors. The 7 a.m. introduction, the graphics, the musical interludes, the times of the commercial breaks — they are all new, as well.

“All due respect to the people who worked hard on ‘The Early Show,’ we really needed the new program to be a light-switch moment,” said David Rhodes, president of CBS News, who is somewhat new, too, having been on the job for 11 months.

In an attempt to overcome the network’s longtime last-place status in the mornings, “CBS This Morning” is branding itself as a more substantive alternative to NBC’s top-rated “Today” and ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

But while preparing for the change, the network was still producing the final editions of “The Early Show,” creating a TV traffic jam of sorts that Mr. Rhodes and other CBS executives had to manage.

“The Early Show” had to move out of its studio on Fifth Avenue by Jan. 1, so last week the show emanated from the electoral battlegrounds of Iowa and New Hampshire. It also borrowed the “CBS Evening News” studio and a backup control room at the CBS News headquarters in Midtown Manhattan.

Down the hall from there, Mr. Rose, Ms. King and Erica Hill, a co-anchor of “The Early Show,” rehearsed their new program as if it were live, using some of the same live shots and video clips from the campaign trail.

While watching the rehearsals, Mr. Rhodes said he “ducked out a couple of times to keep an eye on the show we actually had on television.”

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On The Road: Airlines Recovering From 9/11 With Extra Fees

Airlines in the United States lost $55 billion and shed 160,000 jobs during that decade. But the industry has worked through the economic tumult. A decade later, the system is smaller in terms of capacity, but it’s still in good working order. Last year, for example, 720.4 million people boarded airplanes in the United States, slightly higher even than the 719.1 million passengers in 2000.

Two weeks ago, at the annual convention of the Global Business Travel Association in Denver, Michael W. McCormick, the executive director of the group, hinted at a recovery.

“We’re not seeing record profits, but we’re also not seeing the end of airline travel as we know it,” he said. “So have things changed for the better?”

Good question. Planes are more crowded than ever, but fares remain near historically low levels. Other than the airport security challenges, however, the one major difference from 10 years ago is all the extra fees airlines have added to base fares, charging for things that used to be part of the ticket price.

Last year, for example, domestic airlines raised $3.4 billion just from charges for checked bags. In 2007, the year before most airlines started charging extra for checking a bag, the comparable figure was $464.2 million.

“Some would argue that you make more money from ancillary fees than you do operating the airplane, and that you’d like to figure out a way to sell us pillows and things while keeping the plane on the ground,” Peter Greenberg, the CBS News travel editor, joked to airline executives during a panel discussion at the business travel convention.

“It’s the right way to price the product,” replied Doug Parker, the chief executive of US Airways. Like other airline executives, Mr. Parker is adamant that ancillary fees have become a permanent part of the fare structure — and that they actually make a lot more sense than, say, the fees that many hotels charge customers.

“Last night, I stayed at a hotel down the street and I wanted to get a bottle of water and it cost $6,” Mr. Parker said as someone on the stage passed him a free bottle of water. Airlines, he noted, do not charge anyone for a drink of water.

Not that the idea hasn’t come up.

In 2008, he said, US Airways “actually instituted charging for all drinks on board, including sodas and water,” he said. The idea was dropped a few months later because of passenger resistance.

“Six bucks in my hotel room last night for water!” Mr. Parker repeated as the audience laughed. “We just wanted to charge a dollar!”

While airplanes that have been flying mostly full for over two years as capacity has been reduced to cut costs, another inconvenience has arisen. To avoid paying to check a bag, more passengers have been lugging more belongings onto already crowded planes. Some industry analysts have estimated that as many as 59 million extra bags are now being carried onto planes each year.

“It’s much harder to find space for your bag now on the airplane,” Mr. Parker said. He said the trend hasn’t created actual departure delays, “but the boarding process takes longer. We’re starting the boarding process sooner.”

Among the changes he predicted that all passengers can expect to see is a limit on extra checked bags, by airlines and also by the Transportation Security Administration at its checkpoints. “It’s becoming a huge problem for them. When you stand in line at the T.S.A., you see that the line is because of all those bags going through, not because of the people themselves being processed,” Mr. Parker said.

Also ahead is even further contraction in the domestic commercial aviation system. Delta Air Lines, for example, recently announced that it would drop service to 24 small and midsize airports, and US Airways said last week it was reducing service in Las Vegas by an additional 40 percent. At the same time, airlines have been mothballing many 50-seat regional jets, long the backbone of service at midsize airports.

Over the last decade, Mr. Parker said, the domestic airline business came to terms with the reality that it “had gotten way overbuilt, with too many hubs and too many airplanes.”

“We’re being much more rational, not trying to chase market share wherever we can but instead doing what we do well and sticking to that,” he said.

Asked about complaints from travel managers that airlines don’t provide enough “transparency” in showing optional fees clearly along with base fares, Mr. Parker said that business travelers were well aware of the panoply of extra charges, especially those for checked bags. Alone among the major carriers, Southwest Airlines does not charge for checking a bag.

“To suggest that people don’t know about baggage fees is hard to embrace,” he joked. “Because if you haven’t heard about them, Southwest will run an ad every couple of minutes to make sure you do.”

E-mail: jsharkey@nytimes.com

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Memo From Tripoli: Qaddafi’s Handling of Media Shows Regime’s Flaws

“This is not even human blood!” the escort erupted to group of journalists, making a gesture with his hands like squeezing a tube. “I told them, ‘Nobody is going to believe this!’ ” he explained, as Elizabeth Palmer, a correspondent for CBS News, later recalled. His name was withheld for his protection.

For the more than 100 international journalists cloistered here at the invitation of the Qaddafi government, its management — or, rather, staging — of public relations provided a singular inside view of how this autocracy functions in a crisis.

As the incident of the faked blood shows, the Qaddafi government’s most honest trait might be its lack of pretense to credibility or legitimacy. It lies, but it does not try to be convincing or even consistent.

Government officials often insisted the journalists watch grisly footage of public beheadings, presented on state television as scenes from rebel-held Benghazi, even though the officials surely knew that all the major news organizations had correspondents in Benghazi confirming that there were no such executions.

The members of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s fractious family who run the country scarcely pretend to rest their authority on his impotent and unworkable “Jamahiriya” — the hierarchy of popular committees he calls direct democracy.

And as some of Colonel Qaddafi’s sons now try to persuade the NATO allies to trust their pledges about a cease-fire, power-sharing or democratic reforms, the opaque and fickle system so vividly displayed to the foreign journalists here may come back to haunt them.

Twenty-six journalists received a firsthand lesson in the Qaddafi government’s decision-making style late on Wednesday afternoon. All were suddenly ordered, without explanation or pattern, to leave Libya the next day. By the end of the night, many had negotiated individual exemptions.

Then at breakfast the next morning, another official announced that the exemptions were no good, a bus was coming to dump the journalists in Tunisia, and it was time to go. But by 11 a.m. it was finally clear that there would be no bus to the border at all. Who in the government pushed for the expulsions and who might have stopped them is impossible to determine.

“It is just the chaos of not having institutions in the country,” said one businessman who has worked closely with the Qaddafi family and government, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “When a decision is made, it is not always a decision in truth. Nobody is really in charge, and decisions are made on whim and caprice.”

The idea of inviting the foreign news media into the tightly closed capital appears to have come from Seif al-Islam el-Qaddafi, who announced it on television. He rose to pre-eminence in the family in part by obtaining influence over the Libyan government’s investment fund, Western businessmen who worked with him say. He doled out investment opportunities inside Libya to businessmen and officials in the West in exchange for help repairing its relations with European and American governments.

While Seif el-Qaddafi has sought to project a reformist face to the news media and the West during the crisis, two of his brothers have led the crackdown on the rebels. Khamis el-Qaddafi leads the most formidable brigade now believed to be charged with the siege of rebel-held Misurata. And Mutassim el-Qaddafi is a national security adviser with a private militia now believed to be leading the fighting against rebels in the east.

When four New York Times journalists were captured by pro-Qaddafi militia in the east, Seif el-Qaddafi and his staff in Tripoli immediately pledged to protect them, and his chief of staff, Mohamed Ismail, said Seif el-Qaddafi deserved credit for engineering their release. But the journalists were blindfolded and beaten for several days before Mr. Ismail said he could locate them, and they said that during that time they had overheard the soldiers talking about orders from “Dr. Mutassim.”

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