Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Disappointed by a role model

I have always been motivated by the expression, "If you want big rewards you have to take big risks." But sometimes, taking a risk, or trying something new, doesn't always work to ones benefit. And in Katie Couric's case, I think her switch to CBS Evening News was a risk she shouldn't have taken.

I was shocked and disappointed when watching the recent 60 minutes interview conducted by Couric with Senator John Edwards and his wife, Elizabeth. Days after the Edwards' announced the recurrence of Elizabeth's cancer, Couric engaged the presidential candidate and his wife in an unsympathetic and rather heartless conversation. Watch the interview here.
I will admit, that growing up I turned on NBC every morning to catch the TODAY Show with Katie and Matt, before heading off to middle school. I dreamed of being Katie Couric. After all, who else gets to talk to everyone from Hollywood celebrities to members of the senate, travel around the world, and get makeup and a designer wardrobe handed to her? (Not to mention a $16 million a year salary). My dream job! However, as I grew up and became more independent to form my own opinions my view for the perky brunette morning news anchor began to change.
Don't get me wrong, I think Katie Couric is an exceptional newswoman and I loved her chemistry with the rest of the TODAY Show family, and I don't blame her for wanting to move on, and sleep in, after 15 years as TODAY show co-anchor to become the first solo female nightly news anchor. She made news history. Unfortunately, her move has done nothing to the CBS News rankings, which sit third behind the NBC and ABC nightly newscasts, and Couric, once named as one of the top five most influential women in Time magazine, is now being watched by less viewers and having some once devout followers, questioning her credibility as a hard news journalist. I wonder if Couric regrets her decision to leave the TODAY Show because in my mind, she was much better when she had Matt, Al, and Ann to lean on.

With that said, I thought Couric's interview with the Edwards was inappropriate. She asked harsh questions in a time of sensitivity, was overly brass, biased and downright rude. It amazed me that Couric would come across with such a lack of sympathy for Elizabeth and Senator Edwards, especially pointing fingers with phrases like "Your decision to stay in this race has been analyzed, and quite frankly judged by a lot of people. And some say, what you're doing is courageous, others say it's callous." And "Some have suggested that you're capitalizing on this." More interview questions here. Couric frequently made it out to seem that Senator John Edwards was putting his campaign before his beloved wife, which I thought to be completely out of the line. By the way, "who" says these thing? She was very vague and subjective.

The demeanor of the interview is what made me the most embarrassed to call myself a once Katie Couric fan. This was the journalist I looked up to? Not so much anymore. I commend the Edwards for taking a more lighthearted approach to Elizabeth's illness and remaining strong when faced with Couric's blunt commentary. After all, only Elizabeth knows how she feels and only she can decide how she wants to deal with living with cancer. No one should judge her for wanting to live each day to the fullest, instead of sulking in bed while her husband hits the campaign trail.
Couric only cracked a smile once during the entire interview, not that the conversation covered a happy subject, but she seemed to have a skeptical glare on the couple as if she was telling all those watching that she disproved of their decision to remain in the 2008 presidential campaign.

It is disappointing to see one of your role models let you down. Being at Medill I have learned the importance of being as objective as possible when reporting, and now, more then ten years out of middle school, I have come to realize the importance of taking risks, chances and embracing change in my life, however I hope to do it with more class and compassion than Couric showed in the interview.
As journalists I think it is important to be as objective, respectful and as human as possible when conducting any interview.
My heart goes out to Elizabeth and everyone else who is fighting the vicious battle with cancer. It is time for all of us to take a moment not as journalists, but as people, and appreciate the preciousness of our life and the lives of those around us.

4 Comments:

At Thursday, March 29, 2007, Blogger LL said...

I have no idea why the spacing is so off! If anyone knows or is having the same problem please tell me...it looked normal before I published it! Thanks!

 
At Friday, March 30, 2007, Blogger MK said...

Katie Couric's move was probably the worst kept secret when it came down last spring. When she took the reigns from Bob Schieffer in the fall, CBS was actually gaining in the ratings. Now CBS is moving backward.

I must admit that I've never watched Couric on CBS even though I did watch Schieffer on occassion. Why won't I watch? I don't know. Maybe I just don't buy the whole thing. We heard so much about what a historic event it was and the contract and the subsequent shake-ups at the Today Show and The View (who even cares about the View?!) that when she actually got behind the desk, it didn't seem to matter. History was made when she signed the contract. The five month wait until she went on the air built up absurd expectations.

Maybe she just isn't cut out to have her own show - and that is not a knock on her ability as a journalist or TV personality. She just seemed to work very well with the team at Today. Perhaps viewers just don't like her going solo. Whatever the case may be, it doesn't seem like she's helped CBS too much in the seven months she's been on.

 
At Friday, March 30, 2007, Blogger JA said...

I'm disappointed that Katie Couric is not doing so great with the ratings. I was definately excited about a woman going solo on the evening news. Sometimes Couric tries so hard to avoid being judged as the emotional female reporter that she comes off callous. Showing some compassion wouldn't be a sign of weakness especially when a part of journalism strives to get people to empathize.

 
At Saturday, March 31, 2007, Blogger L.C. said...

To be honest, it's been a long time since I've quasi-liked Katie Couric and her disappointing performance at CBS didn't surprise me. She never struck me as anything more than a perky on-air personality--I don't think I ever really perceived her as the brightest, most hard-headed journalist.

To me, Ann Curry does such a better job of seeming at once expert/authoritative and at the same time friendy/personable. Forgive my little rant, but I think CBS made the mistake in not recognizing that Katie Couric never offered a lot more than a bubbly personality to wake up to in the morning.

 

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