Irony of Katie Couric’s CBS debut
It’s been at least five years since I turned on a national evening news broadcast. The irony of Katie Couric’s debut on the CBS Evening News was not lost on me — specifically since it was complete serendipity that I saw most of it last evening.
My bride was in Europe and I picked her up at the airport late in the day. After arriving home and getting settled in, I flipped on the tube to go to CNN. Just so happens that it was about 5:45pm and the default channel when my PVR fired up was the CBS affiliate in the Twin Cities and Couric was on for her first night.
Couric did a fine job. My wife did, however, asked me sarcastically “Was there any news?” as the human interest story wrap-up was occurring at the end of the show. I remarked how this was a show. All of these news programs are shows…designed to gain viewers, advertisers and increase viewing while adhering to some sort of journalistic standard of hard news. Since news is usually sensational and focused on atypical events many viewers find bothersome, producers focus on ‘leaving the viewer on a high note’ with a happy story to end the show.
The irony of Couric’s debut is that it occurred as nightly news television viewing continues its steady decline and secondarily since my bride and I — smack dab in the sweet spot of demographics as people who still consume traditional media in droves — find evening news shows like this one irrelevant to how we get our news and far too limiting in scope to truly gain any depth of understanding of issues and events.
We read the local Minneapolis StarTribune, The Wall Street Journal (nice balance of left and right, by the way), The New York Times and watch CNN, but the lion’s share of both of our news consumption comes from the plethora of online news sites we go to daily. It’s highly unlikely I’ll turn on the CBS Evening News again for, say, another five years.
The challenge for the CBS Evening News, all other national news shows (as well as the local affiliate news programs) is how to remain relevant when people increasingly consume on-demand, asynchronous news vs. the “I gotta be in my chair for a half hour” news programs. As choice continues to explode, few people are willing to invest the time necessary to view any given news program…
…and hoping for serendiptious viewing like I experienced isn’t going to stem the decline.