It was another roller coaster week last week for Andrew Heyward, the president of CBS News.
First he suffered the smug "I told you so" reaction from competitors, colleagues and critics when he announced the departure of Susan Molinari, the congresswoman turned anchor, only a year after he had hired her in a high-profile, high-risk bid to start a Saturday morning news program.Then he absorbed some grateful slaps on the back after word got out that Don Hewitt, the venerated producer of CBS' most successful program, "60 Minutes," had agreed to help create a weeknight version of that CBS institution.
The two developments reflect the pressures constantly colliding in the brain and the heart of Heyward, who, in ascending the hierarchy of CBS News, has learned to be a hard-headed business strategist and a slick diplomat.
He knows his mandate: to earn attention, ratings and profits without compromising the prestige of CBS News.
And since he took over the news division two and a half years ago, its flagship programs have shown increases in the Nielsen ratings.
All the broadcast networks except NBC expect to lose money this season and next, as their audiences scatter to cable television, computers and other distractions. For CBS, which has the oldest audience, the push is on to attract younger viewers and urban viewers, and news has become a critical focal point of that effort.
As "60 Minutes" was the first to prove, news magazine programs can be extremely profitable. They can earn dependably solid Nielsen ratings in almost any prime-time hour, making them useful pillars to shore up a network in time slots where its entertainment programs are sagging.
NBC has constantly added editions of "Dateline," which will be on five nights in the fall. ABC combined two news magazines under one banner to promote them better and will offer three nights of "20/20" in the fall.
CBS has had only "60 Minutes" and "48 Hours," and the network's entertainment chief, Leslie Moonves, had been begging the news division for another "60 Minutes" to add to the weeknight schedule.
The journalists at "60 Minutes" declined, saying it was difficult enough to produce a show of its quality and depth once a week, let alone twice. In addition, the "60 Minutes" crew fears feeling the same pressures that led "Dateline" and "20/20" to add "soft" features on lifestyles, consumer issues or celebrities, both to fill their added hours and to bolster ratings.
"Andrew became Henry Kissinger on the `60 Minutes' thing," said one high-level CBS producer, speaking, as is the CBS News custom, on condition of anonymity. "He negotiated between what Black Rock and Moonves wanted, and what the `60' guys didn't want."
Black Rock is the nickname for the CBS Corporation's headquarters in Manhattan, where Mel Karmazin, the corporation's president and chief operating officer, has his office. Moonves, the Los Angeles-based entertainment chief, was elevated earlier this year to president of CBS Television, in charge of entertainment, sports and news.
Heyward used to report directly to Karmazin (or his predecessor, Peter Lund); now he reports to Moonves, a situation that rankles some longtime CBS journalists. "Why should Andrew report to entertainment?" one grumbled, ignoring the notion that Moonves' job is supposed to be larger than just entertainment now.
Unlike the grumbler, many CBS News colleagues had hoped that Heyward could change Hewitt's mind about a second "60 Minutes." In their view, it would be a sign of success and of confidence in CBS News if the news division captured another slot in prime time, and it might attract more corporate resources and attention to news.
This division of opinion - whether to resist the corporate profit pressures or to use them to News' advantage - is typical among CBS News journalists.
"They have the oldest video news history in the business, and it's one (heck) of a legacy, but it means everybody there always talks about the good old days," said Roger Ailes, a longtime political analyst and now the president of Fox News. "In this business, you've got to take risks."
The riskiest attention-getting moves Heyward has taken at the helm have failed: the attempted transformation of Molinari and the hiring of former Senator Bill Bradley as an essayist (which also ended in a mutual parting after a year).
But Heyward also negotiated a highly unusual deal in which Christiane Amanpour, CNN's star correspondent, became a part-time correspondent for "60 Minutes" as well as a contributor of five pieces a year.
The signing of Bryant Gumbel, the former anchor of NBC's "Today," for more than $5 million a year would never have been labeled a risk; Gumbel was much sought-after, but his program, "Private Eye," received poor ratings and has been reduced from a weekly program to occasional specials for the coming season.
"It was critically important to attract someone of Bryant Gumbel's stature when we did," Heyward said. "And this was arguably the hardest year in history to start something new; I think only one new hourlong show from this season is coming back.
"Bryant has done some terrific stories, he's every bit as talented as he was when I watched him on someone else's air, and his show is well within the pattern of normal growth for a news magazine."
Heyward pointed out that other CBS magazines, "60 Minutes" and "48 Hours," were the only network news magazines to show growth this season over the 1996-97 season, both in total viewers and in the 25-to-54-year-old age groups advertisers want most on news programs, even if the growth was only to 5 percent from 3 percent.
And "Evening News With Dan Rather," which had been in third place for so long that CBS had begun to despair of its ever moving higher, now challenges ABC's "World News Tonight" for second place and has sometimes even challenged NBC for first place. Its ratings increased 11 percent in total viewers and 10 percent in adults 25 to 54.