Katie Couric, who made waves five years ago when she was appointed as the first woman to anchor an evening news program solo, will be stepping down from her post at CBS Evening News, according to an AP news story. She is expected to launch a syndicated talk show in 2012, and her contract with CBS expires in early June. The move has not been officially confirmed.
Couric broke ground when she rose to the evening news desk in 2006, but since then, her tenure at CBS has been relatively fraught, and there has been frequent speculation about her job security. According to a 2007 article by Joe Hagan, she was expected to “blow up” the “formulaic evening-news format” when CBS offered her a show that would be “an incubator for her own ideas.” This didn’t happen – CBS had lackluster ratings, and even Couric said that had she known how things would turn out, she might not have taken the job.
“It would have been less appealing to me,” she told Hagan. “It would have required a lot more thought.”
Now, four years later, she may be admitting defeat. But it also might not be her fault. Writing for Time, Joe Poniewozik says that CBS was expressing optimism when they hired Couric, showing their hope that “that the evening news business was not dying, and therefore it was possible not just to take market share from a competitor but to actually being in a new audience and increase the total evening-news viewership.” This seems not to have happened, and the new contenders for Couric’s slot (all of whom are men) are unexciting prospects. This, Poniewozik says, means that CBS is accepting that the evening news industry is in decline.
Diane Sawyer is still holding her own over at ABC, a promising sign, despite the fact that it seems unlikely that a woman will replace Couric. But even though Katie Couric may not have been an ideal news anchor, or have accomplished her ambitious goals, she still broke an enormous glass ceiling – for which I’ll always admire her.
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