Katie Couric Leads the New CBS News
So the $15 million news lady premieres – what’s the result? Winners and losers!
Actually, Katie was neither. She was fine, nice – and not overly cute. But it was really a non-event except for all the hype. I like Katie – a lot. She interviewed me on the TODAY Show, she is a very nice, approachable person, exactly as she appears. And she’s good on camera. She DOES create a communication experience. But is that enough….
The interesting thing in tonight’s CBS News is that she was not among the winners and losers. She was neutral, did a good job, but nothing spectacular. Whether she wins will be seen in the next few months, or years maybe, but not the next few days and weeks. (Remember Conan O’ Brien – who started out terribly many years ago and is now a big star – and pretty good at that. He took a year to establish.)
First impressions are important, but we already know Katie. She did well in not trying to overdo her ‘personality.’ She doesn’t have to. She read the news, and she was fine. We’ll see as far as Katie goes.
Documentary filmmakers – this was an overproduced show. There were literally five set pieces, mini-documentary films or segments. The documentaries, and some of the set pieces were good, generally, but they were not news:
- Aftghanistan today with Laura Logan
- Bush speaking today against backdrops of ‘evil’ leaders with Jim Axelrod
- Tom Friedman, NY Times Columnist in a long interview with Katie
- Black Gold – Shell’s ‘difficulties’ and riches in today’s oil market
- Produced Segments of Free Speech, Snapshots and Precious Images
Graphics – there of course is a whole new look to the CBS News with Katie. It looks good, I guess. Certainly is livelier than the Dan Rather backdrop. And their Snapshots segment was well done and interesting. (Not so much Free Speech – who really cares what a lay person thinks unless they have credibility – just more talking head and spin meisters.) The design was very conscious – take a look at the firm who did them National Ministry of Design in Boston. Good job, but is that news.
Non-Network News – the show was interesting, but why would you want to watch. For Katie – I don’t think so – she had more freedom, spontaneity and spunk on the TODAY Show. She is a newsreader now, albeit a pretty good one. This is a five segment show masquerading as news – the internet, and cable for instant major events updates will be the winners for news of the future. This CBS Evening News is entertainment, but it’s not that entertaining.
Network News – See above.
News Readers – If Katie can’t stand out, not too many can. It was good to see the clips of Walter Cronkite and Edward R. Murrow in the Snapshots segment – they were trusted NEWSMEN (or Newswomen as the case might be.) They did more than read news – we wanted their opinions and got them. The biggest opinion from Katie was her ending – when she asked viewers to give her ideas for how to ‘sign off,’ and then signed off with “I’m Katie Couric, thank you for watching and hope you tune in tomorrow night.” Not exactly compelling.
Mass Media – this is just a further splintering of the influence of mass media on the public. There are too many options – and it’s not just the news media. Theatrical film distributors are trying to create the “film” experience to attract patrons who want to watch in the convenience of home theatres or on DVDs. Videos are now produced by anyone and put on the internet, and more people might see a silly but riveting home movie in a week than have seen a major motion picture in a year. Fragmentation is here, and I’m afraid that CBS Evening News spent a lot of money on a fine person but the audience is gone.
What do you think? More than likely you didn’t see the newscast. (Although you might watch tomorrow night as Katie got in a great plug for an exclusive live (sort of – it will have been taped) interview with President Bush – very clever.) But if you do watch it in the future, doubtful if it will get much better. They put a lot into this first show in money, promotion, hype and production value. I don’t think it will pay off – even though I like Katie.
Let us know your opinions right here!