Friday, March 02, 2007

Give Couric a Chance

In a March 2nd column for USA Today, Al Neuharth, founder of colorful paper, writes: “‘World News’ hot; why is Couric cold?”

Neuharth goes on to explain that since Couric’s highly anticipated September 4th CBS debut, the CBS Evening News has lost more than 600,000 viewers, keeping the program firmly in 3rd place among the major networks’ nightly newscasts.

He says it’s not due to a lack in ‘hot’ news stories like Iraq, Bush, early presidential hopefuls, etc. Neuharth says it’s because Couric is simply not adept at covering “hard news.”

Neuharth’s solution for boosting viewership is to tap into Couric’s “strength:” soft news coverage. I don’t disagree that Couric was great on the Today Show and is a natural at covering “soft news.”

But I do think that people are selling her short. Well before the Today Show crossed her path, she was an accomplished broadcast journalist with an AP award and an Emmy under her belt. I think that the drop in ratings for CBS has more to do with the fact that the public has pigeonholed Couric as someone too “cute” and “perky” to cover serious issues and less to do with her actual abilities as a journalist.

It also might have to do with the widely-held view that Couric “betrayed” NBC by jumping ship to CBS. People have been criticizing her decision and banking on her to fail.

And it’s not only Couric, any woman who might assume that network anchor chair faces an uphill battle. Many Americans simply aren’t willing to accept someone other than an older white male as an authoritative, informed national anchor. They don’t want Couric to tell them the news; they want her to bring her famous legs back to the screen.

Neuharth isn’t making the situation better by perpetuating stereotypes, he’s pretty much saying, ‘Oh, let’s keep her in the kitchen, that’s what she’s good at.’

I say get rid of the preconceived notions of what a network anchor “should” be and what Couric “should” be. Just give her a chance people!



At Saturday, March 03, 2007, Blogger Medill Media Watch said...

Or maybe CBS should have chosen a woman with hard news experience and a brain in the first place. Not all women need to stay in the kitchen, but maybe Couric should.


At Saturday, March 03, 2007, Blogger Medill Media Watch said...

Well goodness, LT, why don't you tell me how you really feel?

All joking aside, I think LT has a point. Couric is an accomplished woman, but I can think of many accomplished women with hard news experience who would be better in this role than Couric is.

CBS had an opportunity to make history by hiring a woman to do anchor the national news -- and I applaud the network for taking that chance. However, it was not necessary to rely on a name like Couric's to draw viewers. The novelty of hiring any woman might have been enough to draw in curious viewers. Hiring a one who is more qualified than Couric to take on this job might have kept them tuned in.


At Saturday, March 03, 2007, Anonymous TD said...

haha darn LT!


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