Who will be the next anchor of the CBS Evening News? That is the big question that many are asking these days in light of the news that Katie Couric will soon be departing from the anchor desk. I am hoping and trusting that a new anchor will be found that will be the opposite of the one being replaced.
This week, Katie Couric is finally planning to acknowledge she is leaving the CBS Evening News after five years. Couric is in London this week, where she will be anchoring the network’s coverage of the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. Next week CBS will announce her successor.
I admit to not liking Couric as the anchor of the CBS Evening News, and so am looking forward to a new chapter at the network. I have been critical of Couric for a number of years and for a variety of reasons.
When Wisconsin Assembly Republican Minority Leader Betty Jo Nelson told her colleagues many years ago that she did not want to extend the legislative floor period in December as it would cut into her cookie baking time she gave women in her profession a black eye. When Katie Couric stated that she would not go to the Middle East war zone as CBS News anchor due to family reasons she not only gave women journalists a black eye, but sent all news professionals into chills.
There is a duty as a journalist to go where the news is and often times that means into the lion’s den. When Frank Reynolds, Dan Rather, Edward R Murrow, and countless other news reporters ventured into war zones and international hot spots they all had loved ones they worried about. They had personal responsibilities to attend, but knew as reporters they all had a duty to the truth. To see the truth of war you need to see the action, talk with the combatants, and understand the nuances of the conflict that can’t be understood by sitting in a safe studio in New York.
During the opening night in September 2006 of her run as CBS News anchor I was floored when international news stories were dropped so that she could offer photos during the newscast of Tom Cruise’s baby!
Couric did lead off with Afghanistan which featured a female reporter and allowed more time than usual for the story to be told. But after that, there appeared to be no other international news taking place. (In reality Calderon was announced to be the new leader of our neighbor, Mexico. The United Nations had strong words for the Sudanese government over the Darfur crisis, and British politicians were talking like crazy over when Prime Minister Blair was set to sail from 10 Downing Street)
Couric did not have time for those stories because Tom Cruise spawned a child and I supposedly wanted to see photos. Whatever that “photo’ part of the newscast is all about I predict it will soon be jettisoned. It was like a Led Zeppelin song during Sunday morning services. I have already posted my thoughts on having a commentator segment during the news, and while I applaud that move, I do think there has to be some requirement for “gravitas” and not open it up for just every person with a wedgie.
I understand the evening news broadcasts have changed and morphed from what they once were when I was a teenager. But I would hope that the ones making the decisions at the Tiffany Network might recall what they once were, and what they once represented, and let that guide them when making the call about the next anchor of the CBS Evening News.