I like Katie Couric — perhaps that’s because I’ve watched her for far longer than she has been a national figure; she is from Arlington, Virginia as I am, and she was a reporter on the NBC station in Washington for years.
That said, she is what she has always been: adept at soft news. Yes, I know she’s been given “important” stories in the past, but she just doesn’t have the gravitas (and voice) to pull it off. And today, something I heard on the radio clinched it.
Katie Couric’s Notebook is a new low in fluff. These 90 second commentaries by Couric are not only a waste of airtime (as are most of the stories on news radio these days — see below), they highlight her overly pixie-ish delivery in such a way that you have to ask yourself why is she the anchor of a major network newscast?
Today’s commentary was on the use of the word “like”, as in, like, teenspeak. Totally, dude. And there was no sociological research presented, it was purely anecdotal with Couric’s daughters thrown in. It was silly, something that you’d expect a local news fluff reporter to fill time with after the weather. Don’t believe me? Listen to it here. I dare you to imagine that this is the anchor of the nightly news.
And it convinced me more than ever that this is where Couric belongs, on the local news and not in the seat occupied by Douglas Edwards, Walter Cronkite, Dan Rather, and Bob Schieffer. Even Connie Chung managed to project a serious and authoritative tone when she shared the anchor duties. Katie? Not so much.
After this piece of fluff aired, KCBS went to a story about wise man theft. It went like this:
“A town in blah blah blah is shocked by the theft of wise men from nativity scenes. With the story here’s blah blah blah.”
“A town in blah blah blah, known for its nativity scenes, is shocked by the theft of wise men. Thieves used blow torches to steal XXX wise men from the displays. For CBS News, I’m blah blah.”
Probably 3/4 of these kind of fluff stories are just a reporter regurgitating the intro to the story without giving any new information. Two to three sentences, and the story is over; and we as an audience are really no more informed than we were before.