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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Revisiting Katie Couric 

Excerpts from a Charlie McCollum article in the San Jose Mercury News:

...Since Dan Rather exited the anchor desk (or was pushed out) more than a year ago, CBS Chairman Leslie Moonves...has seen Couric as the solution to the slumping viewership for the ``Evening News.'' There really has been no fallback for Moonves as he pursued Couric for the job.

But there are more than a few people, admittedly traditionalists about TV news, who see Couric as lacking the weight to carry the lead news role. Robert Zelnick, a former ABC journalist who now heads Boston University's journalism department, says the shift ``reminds me of the move Barbara Walters made from `The Today Show' -- where she was fabulously successful -- to anchoring the evening news on ABC with Harry Reasoner, which turned out to be a less than successful move for ABC.''

The flip side is expressed most often by female journalists, who see many of the criticisms of Couric as sexist. Asked recently whether Couric has the ``gravitas'' to handle the anchor job, Connie Chung, who co-anchored the ``Evening News'' with Rather briefly in the 1980s, replied, ``That's essentially a chauvinistic word.''

In the interests of whatever, it should be pointed out that Chung's co-anchor stint actually occurred in the 1990s.

Couric also has received the very public backing of Bob Schieffer and Walter Cronkite, two of the four men to have held the position of sole anchor at CBS. Cronkite, in particular, hasn't been shy since his retirement in his assessment of the current state of TV news, so his endorsement carries considerable weight.

My impression of Couric is that she has a superior TV skill set....

But in a news world where image means a lot, it's hard to see Couric taking significant viewership away from Brian Williams, whose ``NBC Nightly News'' is the clear ratings front-runner at this point. Fair or not, she is saddled with ``perky'' as a middle name, and when big breaking news happens -- a Sept. 11 or an election night -- perky don't cut it with viewers.

Again, this is all horribly unfair, because Couric hasn't had her shot yet....

In semi-related non-news, Meredith Vieira was once a contestant on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. And the Behind the Music episode on Depeche Mode aired in 1998. Yankovic's aired in 1999.

From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

My impression of Katie is a syrupy sweet morning show personality. Nothing wrong with that. But I have no desire to see the news delivered by Gidget every night. Just my humble opinion.
Frankly, I got tired of the way Tom Brokaw ended his broadcasts - this whole kinda good-buddy "Well, the news is over. Come join me tomorrow and we'll talk about news and stuff. Boy, those World War II soldiers were really great, weren't they?"

Of course, he came from the Today Show.

The issue is that U.S. news shows are so celebrity-driven. Same with sports shows.
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