How ‘CBS Evening News’ is adjusting to its new look

After having a week or so to break in its new look, the “CBS Evening News” has mostly stayed the course with its redesigned graphics — though there have been some inevitable tweaks.

As more editions of the newscast were produced under the new look, which debuted Aug. 30, 2022, the network has rolled out some changes and additional looks.

One look that’s started showing up more is a notable departure from the CBS eye-inspired curves that instead draws on the clean, rectangular look found in the lower thirds and other banners — designs that blend animated and still bars and gradients. 

This look is found in select video wall graphics, typically with anchor Norah O’Donnell standing rather than seated at the anchor desk. It typically includes a blue-tinted vertical bar on the right that animates in along with boxed or floating topical text and space for a larger, dominant image.

It is sometimes remains on-screen for the entire anchor intro, while in other cases the wall switches to showing video.

A similar, though slightly more complex, look is also used in fullscreen animations that appear during both anchor voiceovers and in correspondent packages.

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These often include a series of blue-toned animated vertical bars as a transitional element and can include one or more topical image as a background that also make appearances through during the animation.

These graphics are often used to display statistics and pull quotes and have been heavily used over the past weeks to cover the FBI search of Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, which makes sense given that the story has limited visuals beyond evidence photos released by the Justice Department and stock footage of the resort grounds. 

The story also references multiple legal documents, which can use a pull quote-style look that includes a white box with blue outline and right hand side of the CBS eye icon to the left. Other stories throughout the broadcast also use similar looks to present data, key points or quotes.

CBS also tweaked the look used behind O’Donnell for the three-story rundown-style segment that’s typically used mid-broadcast to only show one image at a time, rather than attempting to cram all three into the layout, with the current one appearing in full color.

The Aug. 30, 2022, ‘CBS Evening News’ used this three-image design for three voiceover-only stories. It has since been simplified. 

This approach obviously gives the show much more room to display topical imagery and likely makes it easier to find a picture that will work in the space created by the eye-inspired curves. Previously, the area reserved for each image in the triptych was very narrow and oddly-shaped, which could have made it tricky to find images that read well.

It also has the advantage of decluttering the screen a bit by eliminating the three white curves used to frame out each image.

Many other newscasts will cover a handful of stories in a similar manner but name the segment something (“The Rundown” and “The Index” have been used on NBC and ABC, respectively). This typically includes a video wall graphic with a list of stories in either textual and graphical form, similar to what “Evening” used on its first night on the new graphics package. However, since O’Donnell’s quick story reads weren’t branded, it seemed a bit odd to present them as a package deal.

The updated video wall graphic used ahead of anchor voiceovers is also used, sans the show banner along the top, for select other standalone story intros.

As time went on, CBS also started adding more “video on video” shots as O’Donnell reads copy, including incorporating two separate shots that incorporate multiple video screens in each.

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This approach is used by both ABC and NBC and has some similarities to the setup “NBC Nightly News” typically uses for its top story, though they were done, at least to some extent, before switching over to the new look.

“Evening” has also been trying out a variety of setups for in-studio correspondents. Robert Costa has been in studio regularly due to the Mar-a-Lago story and has been shown both sitting and standing at the anchor desk — but barely interacts with O’Donnell despite being just feet from her.

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Correspondent Jeff Pegues also appeared in-studio standing next to the movable video panel, also discussing the Mar-a-Lago search while related imagery appeared on the screen. It appeared to make a bit more sense to have Pegues in-studio because he did actually have a brief exchange with O’Donnell.

In addition to changes to “Evening News,” “CBS Overnight News” also transitioned over to the new look, including getting an updated open.

This change is somewhat necessary because “Overnight” relies heavily in segments from “Evening” that include O’Donnell intros.

Notably, however, “Overnight News” hasn’t been using lower third inserts at all (CBS is apparently relying on the “clean feed” recording of “Evening” without inserts for use during “Overnight,” but it’s somewhat unusual not to add new ones back in, especially for identifying on-screen interviewees).

Early after the switchover, the old “Evening News” fullscreen wipe continued to pop up from time to time.

The “News Flash” segments inserted into the overnight feed to provide updated headlines are also still using lower thirds inspired by the old “Evening News” look — despite having used an open and on-set video monitor look that more closely matches the new look since they debuted in August 2021.

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