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Katie Couric Makes the News

[update - see below] Yes, I've been a bit absent this week. It's those darn pesky clients! [to all my clients: I love you! You are not pesky! I just have to say that to my blog readers cause my blog readers think they're my main focus in life.]

There is a lot happening over at WME Books, and WME Blogs. Talk about a tipping point! I will write all about it - another day. Today, I want to write about Katie Couric. Obviously, Lip-sticking needs to weigh in here.

I'll be frank and upfront. I don't really like Katie Couric. Never did. I never thought her perky personality was all that great. I never thought her cute little smile was all that cute. I never thought her interviewing technique was any match for - oh, say, Barbara Walters. But, America liked her - nay, LOVED, her, so...I would occasionally turn on the Today Show and see what she was up to.

If find this Katie Couric fascination interesting. Is she the white Oprah? Is she the quintessential 'American girl-next-door makes good'? Or, is she just a pretty decent reporter who got a lot of great PR?

I used to think the latter. Now, I'm not so sure. Now that Katie has gone over to the dark side, [can there be any other description of moving from her fun, sassy little seat on the Tdoay Show, over to the deep, dark, depressing dais of the evening news?], I'm being forced to reassess my opinion of her. Who is Katie Couric, really? Is she influential to women? Does she deserve the tremendous amount of press she gets?

Here's what Newsday wrote about her on Monday, "In interviews, Couric has affected a sort of "oh really?" tone when the subject turns to her status as pioneer. At the recent TV critics' press tour, for example, she said "being the first woman was not the motivating factor for me to take on this new job ... although when my 10-year-old and my 14-year-old and I discussed it around the kitchen table, I do think my 10-year-old was channeling Helen Reddy because she said, 'Mom, you've got to do this. You're the first woman to do this job by yourself.' It's like, 'Where did you come from?'"

Here's what Businessweek was saying, "The network news business needs more than just a killer personality - even one with years of top-flight experience." They don't think Katie can carry the numbers, even though early reports are putting CBS ahead this week. Here's more from BW, "Yeah, well don't bet on it. I've got nothing against Katie Couric... She's smart, has a nifty way of wheedling news nuggets out of folks who don't want to offer them, and seems to make every minute fly by [what Katie Couric was he watching? I never saw her do that.] But, the network news business needs more than a killer personality..."Katie_couric

CNN weighed in with this, "Couric's long-awaited debut capped a tumultuous period for the evening news. For more than two decades, the network news was dominated by Tom Brokaw, Peter Jennings and Dan Rather. Now, Couric will compete against Brian Williams at top-rated NBC and Charles Gibson at ABC."

And, here in Rochester, the Chapter president of our local Women In Communications group, Diane Garga, wrote an editorial for our paper. I quote, "It's clear Ms. Couric has shattered the glass ceiling. In fact, her new bosses at CBS have already compared her to Walter Cronkite. They believe she has the ability to command respect and attention while being empathetic at the same time."

Ho-hum! Excuse me while I yawn. I believe Barbara Walters did this years ago - broke into bringing us the evening news. I believe Oprah rendered the so-called glass ceiling invisible when she knocked Phil Donahue off his talk-show pedestal. I believe the glass ceiling, no disrespect to my chapter president, whom I hold in high regard, disappeared years ago. I believe Katie is neither a pioneer nor a beacon of a brighter world ahead. She's just a news reporter in a skirt. She deserves the press she's getting because she's a celebrity. Not because she's the new news anchor at CBS.

Is her rise to this most-sought-after position on the nightly news good for women? Yes. But, she got there because a struggling TV station was willing to risk everything on America's obsession with celebrity. NOT because she's a good news reporter. JMHO

Here's hoping that the eyeballs stay with her and she proves me wrong. Go for it, Katie.

*** UPDATE: Katie Couric has a vlog! Who knew? She's looking for suggestions on her sign-off remarks - hurry over and share yours.


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Cheryl Miller

Wow Mary I like your blog too!

Yvonne DiVita

Lena, your input on Katie is eye-opening. I can see why you, and young-er women like you, look up to Katie. But - Katie is way closer to MY age than yours! LOL Still, your comment has opened my eyes to a different reality, and I like that. I do admit that so far - I'm pretty happy with Katie on CBS. Not thrilled, but happy. I'm beginning to appreciate her more than I did before.

And, if she inspires our youth (both boys and girls) then I'm behind her 100%.



Thanks for weighing in on a compelling (not to mention, hot) topic.

I agree with your opinion of Couric but, I must admit that I am a raving Couric fan -- and I believe it's a generational 'thang'.

I simply can't get as excited about Barbara Walters as I can Katie. I relate to her more because she's closer to my age. And, because of that, for me, it speaks to a more real possibility of achieving my goals.

I believe that when people see her, they see the face of today's woman (not in a literal sense but more so figuratively).

Corporate America sees Couric-types and it revitalizes the face of women in business for them. It keeps ambitous women in their 30's and 40's in their face as a force to be reckoned with, as if to say, "No, Barbara and Oprah weren't just flukes". Women are here. We're staying, we're successful, driven and hell no, we *won't* go.

I do think it hollows the "victory" a bit if there is too much hoorah-hoorah attached to Couric's competency. Instead of comparing her to Walter Kronkite, I believe Couric would be better served by allowing her work to speak for her. There is an OBVIOUS fine line between a good PR agent (spin) and ridiculosity. (Is that a word!?)

I laughed out loud at the idea that Katie might be the white Oprah! Too funny...

Thanks, as ever, Yvonne.

-Lena West
Lip-Sticking Guest Blogger
Creator, http://www.TechnologyDiet.com
CEO, http://www.xynoMedia.com

Yvonne DiVita

Mary, I'm so delighted you stopped by and that you shared your thoughts on Katie. I love your blog! (we must chat offline). I'm with you - cynical but still hoping!

Mary Schmidt

Well, for the sake of women everywhere, I hope Katie makes a go of it. Otherwise, there will be a lot of "see, women can't hack it" buzzing around.

That said, I've never understood her popularity and I would like to see a complete change in "news" - regardless of the gender of the anchor. No more softball interviews of the President. No more ad nauseum reporting on celebrity babies (who cares how much hair the kid has?) No more once over lightly (if at all) of major world stories and then on to interviewing some self-proclaimed movie star expert. And so on and so on.

Who knows? Maybe Ms. Couric will break out and become a real journalist. Of course, then she'd probably be promptly fired (Yes, I'm cynical, but I keep hoping!)

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