Entering a brave (but perky) new world

It seems that an announcement is imminent that Katie Couric will be named as the new CBS News anchor. It is a pretty disturbing thought on a couple of levels.

First of all, interim anchor Bob Schieffer seemed to be doing just fine replacing Dan Rather. I actually like Schieffer more as an anchor than Rather. He’s like what any number of local news anchors should be were they not too busy being minor celebrities. But I admire Rather as a journalist and he was also kind of like this ticking, cornpone, time bomb that was apt to go off at anytime. I like that too. The dominant anchor on the evening network news followed forever what was known as the “Voice of God” format. The New York Time’s Alessandra Stanley had a great characterization of Schieffer in her piece about the new networks’ evening news configuration after Rather, Peter Jennings and Tom Brokaw left the scene:

“NBC offers the old, familiar one-man anchor format; ABC is experimenting with multiple anchors. CBS is testing a hybrid of both: a voice of God with backup singers. “

The other reason Couric becoming CBS anchor troubles me is because I don’t know if she is up to it. I’m not saying that because she is a woman either. There are several women whom I think would be a better choice than Couric, NBC’s Campbell Brown for one. CNN’s Soledad O’Brien is another. I realize Couric was a journalist before joining the fluff world of “Today.” But she just doesn’t do it for me as a serious news person.

Your network news anchor is someone both solid and human. They are the persons who pull everything together during our presidential assassinations like Walter Cronkite or our space shuttle tragedies or our 9/11s. Katie just seems a little too perky for such gravitas.

If Couric does become the new CBS anchor as expected, I wish her well and I hope that she surprises me in becoming the best anchor ever. Meanwhile, I will watch and wait.

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