Katie Couric is the wrong choice for CBS

by Beacon Staff • April 12, 2006

Now it is important to make a distinction before we go any further.

I don't think Katie Couric will fail because she is a woman.

Rather, she will fail because she is a morning staple who will simply not translate well to a nightly news program.,I've got a wake-up call for CBS News: Katie Couric is not your savior.

Now it is important to make a distinction before we go any further.

I don't think Katie Couric will fail because she is a woman.

Rather, she will fail because she is a morning staple who will simply not translate well to a nightly news program.

It is easy to see why Couric seduced CBS.

For years now, that network has struggled to stay afloat in the major television news field, only to find that it's taking on more water than it's keeping out.

First Rathergate erupted over the falsified National Guard documents during President Bush's re-election bid in 2004.

That resulted in Dan Rather's departure from the evening newscast that he had anchored for 24 years. Then, instead of trying to shake up its program or attempting to inject new blood into its news department, CBS decided to anoint 68-year-old Bob Schieffer its new lead anchor.

I realize that Schieffer was next on the anchoring totem poll, but if you are already trailing ABC and NBC and have been for years, does it really make sense to appoint a man who has an AARP card to be the face of your newscast?

This makes especially little sense considering these networks are constantly trying to appeal to younger audiences.

Well, now have no worries, because Couric is poised to step in and magically relieve all of CBS's problems, or so it seems.

Not only is Couric a full 20 years younger than Schieffer, but her position as the first solo female evening news anchor has the media abuzz and the public fascinated.

These two things are bound to increase ratings once Katie drops into the main anchor seat in September.

So it seems as though signing Couric away from NBC was the best move CBS could have made.

But things are not always as they seem.

Sure, Couric is younger than Schieffer, but then again, who isn't?

CBS could have picked any up-and-comer from its own pool of talent or stolen away a multitude of others and still solved its age problem.

The fact that Couric will become the first woman to sit solo in an evening news chair seems more of a publicity stunt than a truly journalistic decision.

Couric has without a doubt worked long and hard to get the chance to join an evening newscast, but I have serious reservations as to whether the public can warm up to the perky, hairdo-obsessed Couric for its serious dose of nighttime news.

During her time at NBC's "Today Show," she's proven to be nearly perfect for a morning audience. That show's format includes more banter time with her co-workers during one session than she can expect to have on an evening news show during her first three years.

Moreover, it is unlikely that audiences expecting soft and sweet Couric to brighten their mornings with tales of Tickle-Me Elmos and celebrity interviews will be able to accept her talking gravely about a suicide bombing in Iraq or a terrorist attack in London.

The supreme example of this came on the morning of 9/11. After the events began to play out, NBC had the option of staying with Couric during her regularly scheduled program to cover it. Did they choose to do this?

No, the network, as quickly as it could muster Tom Brokaw into an anchor seat, broke away from "Today" and went to its hard news team at "NBC Nightly News."

If NBC felt Couric was a dependable hard-news anchor, why wouldn't they utilize her during the worst incident of terrorism in American history?

The answer to that question is simple: Couric is a talented morning superstar, but she will not be taken seriously at 6:30 p.m.

No matter how well she performs or what stories she covers, she will always be looked at as the woman Americans wake up with, not the one they watch during dinner.