News units transition too

Government isn't the only place where turnover is coming

NEW YORK -- With the election settled, networks are turning to the inter-regnum, with all eyes on what will happen in Washington during the transition and on who will land such plum TV assignments as "Meet the Press" moderator and White House correspondent.

In TV news, it's common for key jobs to turn over with a new administration. With all the attention on the problems facing the country and President-elect Barack Obama's administration, that's where the big stories and big journalists will want to be.

"This will be the center of the universe again," CBS News chief Washington correspondent Bob Schieffer said. "You'll have a whole new group of people coming in, not only for the new administration but a new Congress. Everybody is going to be jockeying for power."

That jostling began right away. Less than 12 hours after Obama was declared the winner, speculation over who would be named chief of staff and to key Cabinet posts dominated the news cycle.

"People who did a real good job on the campaign will be rewarded with top beats," Schieffer said. "You'll see a lot of changes."

Most of the networks were quiet about their own shifts, at least for the time being.

ABC News, however, said Wednesday that Jake Tapper would become chief White House correspondent and Martha Raddatz, the current chief correspondent, will move to chief foreign affairs correspondent. ABC News president David Westin said the news division wanted to reward a superb political reporter in Tapper and respond to the new administration moving ahead with a quick, seamless transition.

"We wanted to be prepared for that transition and be right in synch with the president-elect," Westin said. "There will be a lot of things to report over the next 60 days."

Speculation about who will become moderator of NBC's "Meet the Press" likely will go into overdrive. Tim Russert's death in June left a hole that's hard to fill at NBC; former anchor Tom Brokaw has stepped in temporarily.

Among the names being bandied about: NBC News political director Chuck Todd, NBC News chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell and PBS' Gwen Ifil. The Peacock is thought to now favor a panel approach for Sunday's top-rated news show.

Schieffer confirmed Wednesday that in a year or two he likely will leave "Face the Nation," where he has been moderator since 1991. Already, at the request of news president Sean McManus, Schieffer is staying on through 2009, though he was planning to retire earlier.

"I plan to do it for a while, but we'll be looking for somebody to do it after that," Schieffer said. "In the next year or two, I'm going to want to step back."