9.05.2006

Can Katie Save Slumping CBS?

Around this time last year, the career of Dan Rather took a nosedive after a 60 Minutes story aired with false information. While it wasn't quite the end of Rather's career, he stayed on as host of the CBS Evening News until March 2006, it had all the other markings of a rather ingnominious end to an interesting career.

Later in the spring came the announcement that cheerful morning news anchor and chief revenue development officer at Today was joining CBS. That's right, Ms. Colonoscopy was going to sit behind the big desk at CBS.

While CBS has hardly been shy about promoting Katie, I was interested to watch promo spots this weekend while taking in US Open coverage on CBS and see Katie dressed for the evening in a dark suit and single strand of pearls. The script was earnest and sincere and tried ever so hard to draw on the personal connection that viewers apparently feel for Ms. Couric. She was already sitting - as though we were about to have a serious conversation - and her tone struck me as, well, like someone I really trust sitting me down to give me a talk. Like she knew what was important to me and here's what she had to say about it. It felt like there was a transition afoot from "Look up my bum Katie" to "Senior trust source Ms. Couric".

If you heard none of the script and Ms. Couric's earnest tone - the pearls and dark suit would have been more than enough to send the message.

So, the positioning is clear. What isn't so clear is if Katie and Ms. Couric can reverse the slumping ratings of CBS. I'm not one to watch US network supper news - and when I did it came from Canadian Peter Jennings - but I'm going to have a watch tonight and see how she does.

The credibility of CBS news - especially among Republicans - has dropped in recent years - though CBS certainly isn't alone - network news overall has lost credibility among viewers.
I'm wishing her well, of course, she seems to incredibly nice to wish her some sort of evil.

I just hope CBS recognizes she's a news anchor, not a superhero.

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