CBS Builds Investigative Unit

Feb 20, 2006  •  Post A Comment

In naming Armen Keteyian to head CBS News’ new investigative unit last week, CBS News and Sports President Sean McManus reached outside of the news division’s ranks to fill a position for the first time since he took over the news reins late last year.

Effective March 6, the versatile Mr. Keteyian, a longtime CBS Sports correspondent, will become chief investigative correspondent and establish the investigative franchise Mr. McManus thinks has been lacking at the once standard-setting news division.

The behind-the-scenes investigative players-approximately half a dozen to start-are expected to be announced soon. Mr. Keteyian said, “As we speak, one [person to whom they’ve reached out] is speaking to his bosses” about making the move.

Some people will come from outside CBS News, and “some will cross halls and streets,” he said. That suggests some members of the team could come from the ranks of “60 Minutes,” which is housed across the street from CBS News’ headquarters. One of the investigative unit members will be “a seriously wired-in, Washington-based off-air reporter,” Mr. Keteyian said.

The unit will contribute primarily to “CBS Evening News,” which means there will be oversight by Rome Hartman, the former “60 Minutes” producer who became executive producer of the evening newscast at the beginning of the year.

But Mr. McManus was clear that Mr. Keteyian and his new unit are expected to set their own agenda and help ratchet up the metabolism of “Evening News,” which “is beginning to get a little snappier,” the executive said.

“Every day there is a story where there are layers we haven’t touched yet,” Mr. McManus said, listing examples such as the shooting of a fellow quail hunter by Vice President Dick Cheney and the deaths of coal miners at the Sago Mine in West Virginia.

The new unit’s mandate is to “break new and compelling stories,” Mr. McManus said. “It’s up to them to find those stories.”

Network executives know the enterprising, Emmy-winning Mr. Keteyian’s ability to do just that. The reporter became a featured correspondent for Mr. McManus at CBS Sports in 1997 after having reported for ABC News for eight years and for Sports Illustrated for seven years. Mr. Keteyian also has written or co-written nine books, including George Lopez’s best-selling autobiography, “Why You Crying?” and “Money Players: Days and Nights Inside the New NBA.”

Mr. Keteyian also has reported for HBO’s award-winning “Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel” and the need for him to give that up produced a twinge of a disappointment, he conceded.

TV sports fans will be familiar with Mr. Keteyian’s work. Others, he said, need only to know that “For the last 20 years, I’ve covered sports as news.”