The NYTimes’ Brian Stelter catches up with CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric and news executives Sean McManus and Rick Kaplan as the chorus of “when will Katie leave CBS” is nearly silenced. Couric reiterates that she’ll stay with the network at least until her contract expires in 2011.
On April 9, 2008, The Wall Street Journal reported that Couric’s bosses were planning for a future without Couric in the anchor chair. Stelter reveals what a much-rumored meeting was all about:
“It was to try to figure out how to better utilize Katie’s talents,” said Sean McManus, the president of CBS News. With the election looming, they agreed to revisit the subject after the inauguration.
Ms. Couric says that she never considered a post-inauguration departure from the “Evening News,” and Mr. McManus denies that the executives discussed a timetable for Ms. Couric’s exit. Both said the topic was not revisited after the inauguration. Asked why it didn’t come up again, her executive producer, Rick Kaplan, was blunt. “Her really superb work is what swept those questions away,” he said.
And while the changes brought to the CBS Evening News when Couric took over three years ago this month were quickly done away with, look for more tweaks in the near future.
“We’ve talked a lot about modifying the show,” Mr. McManus said. In a meeting last week, Ms. Couric and her producers made plans to nurture some existing franchises, including the financial investigation series “Follow the Money.” Ms. Couric also wants to add more upbeat stories to the newscast, “since the news can be so depressing now.”
More significantly, Ms. Couric continues to seek to diversify her role beyond the evening broadcast. “I’ve tried to utilize all the existing platforms at CBS, and when they don’t exist, create them myself,” she said.
Apart from CBS, she will conduct monthly interviews with notable women for Glamour magazine, beginning in the December issue.
Couric will also begin hosting a weekly, one-hour interview program on CBSNews.com. Her first guest: cable’s man of the moment:
Taped against a black background, her new interview Web show may remind some of “Charlie Rose,” the PBS interview program. Her first guest is the popular and controversial Fox News Channel host Glenn Beck. Interviews with former Vice President Al Gore and the actor Hugh Jackman are to follow.