Good Night and Good Luck Katie Couric

Yesterday evening, Katie Couric anchored the CBS Evening News for the last time. At least, it was billed that way. As television and television news in particular battle to be relevant in the Internet age, who knows what the future might hold. But for now, it will not be Ms. Couric in the chair where once sat Douglas Edwards, Walter Cronkite, Dan Rather – who for a couple of years co-anchored with Connie Chung – and Bob Schieffer who held the position briefly as an interim anchor.

Scott Pelley is slated to take the con on June 6th. It has been reported that CBS News will utilize a few individuals as interim anchors until then. Mr. Pelley takes over in less than three weeks.

Katie Couric spent almost five years at the top of the CBS News food chain. Debates have raged over whether she was doing a good job or not. Various talking heads noted her salary, said to be something on the order of $15,000,000 a year.

Frankly, I enjoyed Bob Schieffer’s work at anchor. I have thought, on occasion, that CBS could probably have negotiated with Mr. Schieffer to continue in that position and saved themselves a pretty penny in the process.

I suppose, however, that networks are in the position of continually grappling with demographics. They grapple with demographics because they are in a contest with other networks for advertising dollars. This contest leads them to look for ways to innovate, gain an advantage and draw more viewers. Sometimes these things work, sometimes they do not.

I have not been an avid television news watcher in recent years. Yes, at times I turn on television news. Yes, I occasionally watched Ms. Couric in action. What did I think of her work? Frankly, I thought it was just fine. But it wasn’t good enough to wean me from my principal news habit. That habit is getting my news online, principally by reading it.

I believe in the not too distant future, we will have complete convergence between television and the Internet. In coming years, I can see that all media will stream over the Net. We’ll watch, read and listen to everything on one panel, one screen. Broadcast, network news will be on a platform just like any other website.

Plenty of television and radio programming is already available online.

Because there is so much competition in the news/media world, I do believe that network news will have to become more fleet footed in order to compete with nanosecond speed news delivered online. Think about it. How many times have you seen something on a television newscast that you read about, the day before, on the Internet?

Eventually, big budget news operations will probably have to significantly cut their budgets and alter their viewership expectations. Instead of working to draw in a huge swath of viewers, perhaps, the future for those large organizations will be to specialize in in-depth coverage of the most substantial stories and gain more intense following from smaller markets.

Viewership, I suspect, may decline for them, but the kinds of viewers they get might help redeem them to advertisers looking for a very specific segment of the consuming public. Or, perhaps, they will pick up new viewer markets from around the world.

But more of the moment, what does the future hold for Katie Couric? I would hope good things. I suspect we will see her back in the media spotlight soon enough.

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