The Katie Couric Experiment Will Probably Fail

Wednesday, April 05, 2006
I doubt very much that Katie Couric will be successful anchoring the evening news on CBS. The audience for this time slot is generally older and expects a man to hold the position. Is this fair? Whatever, I strongly suspect that this is the harsh reality. But didn’t CBS pay for focus groups to find out what the general public desires in an evening anchor? Of course, but people lie to themselves---and then they will lie to the pollsters. Couric has done splendidly well in the early morning hours when light chitchat is required. The evening news, however, is suppose to be dedicated to serious issues. These viewers will likely feel far more comfortable listening to the soothing voice of a strong male figure. Am I talking like an male chauvinist idiot? Sigh, we will find out soon enough. Everyone will be closely paying attention to the ratings.


Fresh Air said...

I hate to bring up the elephant in the room, but Katie is also a Bush-hating left-liberal idiotarian. Not exactly the person you would like to see replacing Dan Rather. Aside from those other qualities that you mentioned.

Whatever happened to Ananova Reads the News?

Knucklehead said...


You could be correct but you've picked a speculation that can only be "proven" incorrect.

All three of the major broadcase nightly news programs have long been in decline. Success and failure are measured by rates of decline (slower or faster relative to the other two). I'm pretty sure CBS has led the race to the bottom for the past decade or more.

So if CBS news, with Katie Couric in the anchor chair, continues to be leader of the declining pack, does that mean audiences didn't accept a woman anchor? Maybe, but how do you show that - how do you make the case that more of the same is due to having a woman anchor or that particular woman anchor?

If CBS news pulls out of its long nose dive or if NBC and/or ABC start trading yet more altitude for more speed, one could make the case that Katie was CBS's Bugs Bunny yanking on the emergency air brake.

Katie musta got some heck of a compensation package to move from morning "news" chat - the only stable segment of broadcast network news - to nightly news where the audience continues to disappear. Five years of that and people will ask, "Katie who?"

Rather, Jennings, and Whatisname took their chairs when broadcast network nightly news was the only game in town. Everyone knew who they were and the stations and anchors had some base. Who the heck replaced them - who knows? Does anyone care? The anchor chair for nightly news is no longer a path to the nation's living rooms. The only people watching them any more are nodded off in the recliner by the time the show starts.

Barry Dauphin said...

I don't think it is a male/female thing at this point. The audience is going to want someone that is serious in the position, and Couric ain't it. She has made a name for herself being pleasant enough doing fluff stuff. Anytime she gets serious, she becomes very self righteous. Matt Lauer would be no better.

Second, the evening news is a declining brand. Americans don't all settle in in front of the television during dinner to watch the news. There is simply too much competition and other avenues to gather information. Couric has made a name for herself while the television is on in the background as people get ready for work and get the kids off to school. Who's actually listening? The few people that do watch the evening news, actually watch it. In very short order, many will realize that Couric is insufferable when doing anythig more than soundbites.

David Thomson said...

“...but Katie is also a Bush-hating left-liberal idiotarian.”

How can you slander such a nice lady? Katie Couric is a dispassionate and objective journalist. She would never allow personal biases to interfere with her professionalism. Joseph Mengele was also a misunderstood medical experimenter. Some people are just not treated fairly.

Knucklehead said...

This is probably as good a time as any for me to shill for the 2006 Edition of Le Déclin et la Mort de l'Empire de Presse Ancien.

They seem to have slathered some lipstick on the pig and the tone, from what little I've perused so far, is not nearly as fatalistic as in the previous two reports I've shilled for in my long career as a blogotater.

Also notable is that I have not yet easily spotted the reports conclusion that the way to save the fleet was to stop being so soft on the Bush administration. Since I can't believe they would jettison the weights they had so diligently disguised as life preservers I'm sure "we aren't bashing Bush hard enough!" is in there somewhere.

Knucklehead said...

Eesh! The early indicators in the 2006 report suggested that maybe, just maybe, the Presse Ancien were growing up just a tad, just a tiny little bit. Then I found this bit of self-delusional tripe:

During 2005, the press helped Americans know about Hurricane Katrina, the Asian Tsunami, secret security prisons abroad, and later, in early 2006, about the Bush Administration’s conducting domestic wire tapping without first getting court warrants. Whether that performance influenced the approval numbers is difficult to know.

Do they believe this nonsense? Do they look back on the reporting they did re: Katrina and see that as informing the American people? I learned nothing of any value about the Tsunami from the MSM. And they just can't let go of the "domestic wire tapping" nonsense, can they.

David Thomson said...

“Do they believe this nonsense?”

They are running scared. Self preservation is the first rule of the universe. Only a short time ago, a journalist with a few years experience was basically guaranteed a job for life. Common sense dictates that many will soon have to find another way to earn a living. A number of these people are over 40. On a gut level, they blame the Republican Party’s overall “disruptive” economic policies. A more socialist approach would allegedly stabilize everything.

Barry Dauphin said...

Whether that performance influenced the approval numbers is difficult to know.

Gee, do they mean their approval numbers or Bush's?

CF said...

At the moment I think the only evening news show worth watching is Hume's. Katie is a fluff head but so was Rather, I think if the nets had a brain, they'd expand on the feature most valuable in Hume's show--a roundtable of three good journos from differing viewpoints, concentrating on a discussion of a handful of the key news stories.

Everyone in the CBS hierarchy must be a fool--well, the Boaccardi investigation of the Rather debacle showed they are.

MeaninglessHotAir said...

Years ago I read a science fiction story in which you could turn on the television and choose whether you wanted your "news" to be presented by a nude male with a perfect body or a nude female with a perfect body. It's all about ratings, people, and has nothing whatsoever to do with information content, doing what's good for the Republic, integrity, or whatever else it is you would like to project upon it.

Katie Couric has sex appeal. Look here to confirm that if you don't believe me. Peter Jennings had sex appeal. Remember, the purpose of television is to sell you to the advertisers. That's all it is.