Reprogramming CBS Evening News

Katiecouric I give CBS a lot of credit for picking a woman. They just didn’t pick the right woman.  (Marc Berman)

Katie Couric’s numbers are down again.  After a promising start, she’s posting the smallest numbers CBS Evening News has seen in 20 years. 

Personally, I think Couric’s an engaging newscaster. But Berman could be right.  There might be a better choice out there.  Let’s spin the wheel of pop culture and see. 

Rosie O’Donnell?  Kathy Griffin?  Minnie Driver? 

Any candidate, however odd, forces the issue.  Why not?  Exactly, I mean.  Rosie O’Donnell.  Why not?

Well, of course not. But for a moment we step out of conventional wisdom and wonder if  "combative" could be the cardiac paddles newscasting needs.

Kathy Griffin? Campy, sardonic, candid (aka rude)?  Well, of course not.  But are we certain this sort of thing can’t be mixed into the signal? 

Minnie Driver?  Intelligent, charismatic, feeling, alert.  Splendid. This could work.  Holly Hunter, the woman who stole Timecode with a couple of scenes on one quarter of the screen.  This could really work.  Perhaps what we are looking for is the person who can do for the news what Nigella Lawson did the cooking show or Rachel Ray did for morning television. 

At some point, we begin to close in on the strategic truth of the exercise.  Newscasters play a part, the newscast is a performance.  Perhaps it’s time to move away from the "journalism" model and start again.  The anthropological approach says "audition" candidates until a new model merges.   

Glenn Close?  Sarah Silverman?  Paula Abdul?  Tim Gunn?  The possibilities are endless. 


Bauder, David.  2007.  Ratings raise TV news sexism questions.  Mercury News. June 3, 2007.  here.

Shister, Gail.  CBS news flash: Is Katie leaving?  The Barre Montpelier Times Argus.  April 24, 2007.  here.

3 thoughts on “Reprogramming CBS Evening News

  1. Steve Portigal

    It’d be cool if electronic media could take a page from the webby world and figure out how to iterate bits and pieces subtly. Broadway knows how to do this, why can’t the news?

    [or are they doing it and we don’t notice?]

  2. Jude

    People think it’s just the news-reading job that makes us Katie haters. But it’s actually because she is also the managing editor of the news. She decides what stories to cover, and how much time is devoted to each. That’s where she was totally unqualified, even if she weren’t so darned annoying.

  3. LK

    Well…consider this. For those of us living in Canada we have to put up with what i call ‘dude news’, exemplified by the CBC program “The Hour”. A former Much Music (Canada’s MTV) VJ interviews politicans, pop stars, pundits, etc, addressing most of them as ‘dude’ or ‘man’, while clad in a studded belt, sporting the obligatory goatee, delivering the news/current affairs bartender style. Nothing personal against the host, who was in fact very good on Much Music, it’s just that here we have a great example of what happens when people try to add too much popular culture and personality to the public sphere.

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