CBS News this afternoon announced that when the "CBS Evening News with Katie Couric" debuts in September, the broadcast will include a "regular feature" titled, "Free Speech." According to the press release, the segment will feature "opinion and commentary from a wide range of American" and is "intended to create a candid and robust dialogue."
According to "Evening News" Executive Producer Rome Hartman, the segment "will be unlike anything that currently exists on a network evening news broadcast." He adds: "We are not looking to pit one side against another or to broadcast shouting matches -- there's already more than enough of that on television. And it won't be a collection of the 'usual suspects' or 'talking heads;' in fact, we intend it to be just the opposite of that."
The release promises the inclusion of a "wide and diverse group of voices" talking on a variety of topics, promising: "One night, the segment may feature a well known national figure speaking out on a current issue in the news, while the next night, someone may offer a humorous take on a trend in the culture, or it might be Bob Schieffer's unique take on Washington or the world."
I asked Hartman whether the "voices" chosen for the segment will be sought out and picked by CBS News or if individuals can pitch themselves and their commentaries to the broadcast. In an e-mail, he responded: "At the outset, it will be from people we seek out. We DO hope to eventually find a way for people to pitch us, or for us to solicit submissions."
We'll keep an eye on all these changes as the new "Evening News" gears up, and we'll let you know what kinds of reactions we see. Let's start that right here, what do you think about this segment? Who would you like to see featured at some point? And is this something you'd like to see on the "Evening News?" Let us know in comments below or e-mail us with your thoughts.