Jeff Fager’s efforts to re-shape 60 Minutes into an editorially more vibrant, news-conscious program have kept the broadcast among Nielsen’s weekly top 10 television shows since he became its executive producer in 2004. Approaching its 49th season, 60 Minutes is the most-watched news program in America.
His plans to improve the program online have also made the 60 Minutes brand a hit on the Internet and the model of successful electronic journalism in the digital age. Fager has also expanded the brand to cable; 60 Minutes Sports, a sports-oriented edition which he co-executive produces, is in its fifth successful season on SHOWTIME.
In 2011, Fager became the first chairman of CBS News, a role in which he was asked to remake the rest of the news division’s platforms on television, radio and the Internet, in the same way he rejuvenated 60 Minutes, which he continued to oversee as executive producer. That plan began with the appointment of Scott Pelley as network news anchor in June 2011. After three years, the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley has won a George Foster Peabody award, an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Silver Baton, a George Polk award and several Emmys. The broadcast improved its audience each year, finishing the 2013-14 season with its largest audience since the 2006-07 season. It was the fourth consecutive season of viewer growth for the CBS Evening News -- the first time the CBS broadcast has accomplished this in at least two decades.
In January 2012, Fager guided the relaunch of the network’s morning news program, CBS This Morning, into a broadcast critically acclaimed for its fresh focus on harder news and its new team of talent.
In recognition for these and his other achievements, Fager received the 2013 Paul White Award, the highest honor given by the Radio, Television, Digital News Association.
His mission as head of the news division complete, he returned full-time to 60 Minutes in January of 2015. Fager’s 33 years at CBS News include experience at every stage of the electronic news business, including 19 years at the executive producer level, 11 of those at the helm of 60 Minutes. There, Fager upheld the program’s legendary standard of quality storytelling but also instituted a new graphic look and emphasized more timely stories to keep it relevant in a new and challenging era. A pioneer in journalism’s crucial mission to create and grow revenue streams online, he cultivated 60 Minutes’ Internet presence by revamping 60Minutes.com and by initiating groundbreaking digital partnerships with Yahoo! and Comcast. He then built 60MinutesOvertime.com, an innovative, single-sponsored website that was the first to stream web-only 60 Minutes content. Fager also guided the creation and launch of the 60 Minutes iPad app, which is now one of the most popular paid apps available.
Thanks to these measures, 60 Minutes maintains an average television audience almost double that of its nearest newsmagazine competition, reaching an estimated 112 million unique viewers during the 2013-14 season, more than any other primetime non-sports program. 60 Minutes online, thanks mostly to his new digital initiative, streaming of 60 Minutes videos rose 53 percent, users increased by 40 percent and pageviews were up by 39 percent.
The Producers Guild of America voted him best producer in nonfiction television four times; he made TV Week’s top 10 list of most powerful television news executives; The Hollywood Reporter named him one of the “35 Most Powerful People in Media” three straight years.
Before assuming control of 60 Minutes, Fager is credited with leading 60 Minutes II to a slew of major awards over a short period of time as its executive producer for its first five seasons. The awards continued to flow when he took over 60 Minutes. 60 Minutes and 60 Minutes II broadcasts executive produced by Fager garnered 57 Emmys, 11 Peabodys, 16 RTDNA/Edward R. Murrow Awards, six Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University batons, nine Sigma Delta Chi Awards and three Investigative Reporting and Editing Awards.
As the executive producer of the CBS Evening News with Dan Rather from 1996 to 1998, Fager led the broadcast’s highly praised rededication to hard news, enterprise reporting and increased foreign coverage. By the time he left to start “60 Minutes II,” the CBS Evening News had gained more than one million viewers over the previous year, a gain unmatched by competitors.
Fager was also the senior broadcast producer for the CBS Evening News (1994-96) and covered many major international stories, including the war in Bosnia and the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.
He had been a producer for 60 Minutes from 1989 to 1994, primarily working with correspondents Morley Safer and Steve Kroft, and covered several major world events, including the Gulf War with Iraq in 1991. He was part of the original team that developed and launched 48 Hours, the primetime CBS News magazine.
Fager served as a producer on the CBS Evening News, based in London (1985-88) and New York (1984-85), covering numerous international stories. He produced segments on Palestinian-Israeli conflicts in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan; the bombing of Libya in 1986; the Reagan‑Gorbachev summits in Geneva and Iceland; Gorbachev’s first foreign visit, to Paris in 1986; and the collapse of the Soviet Union and the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe.
He was a producer for other CBS News programs between 1982 and 1984, including the weekend editions of the CBS Evening News, and was a broadcast producer for “Nightwatch,” CBS’s original overnight news broadcast. He joined CBS News from KPIX‑TV San Francisco, where he was a broadcast producer (1979-82). He began his career as a production assistant in Boston in 1977 at the CBS station WBZ-TV, then quickly rose through a succession of television and radio news positions, including news writer and assignment editor.
Fager was born in Wellesley, Massachusetts. He was graduated from Colgate University in 1977 with a B.A. degree in English.