Eat The Press

couric n' co.jpg

Day three of Katie, and now we can turn our attention toward what really matters in the world of evening news: Blogging. CBS' new Couric & Co. is already well on its way, with a whack of chatty posts chronicling Katie's trip to D.C. for the Bush interview ("Ms. Couric Goes To Washington"), the blog's "Word of the Day" (first word: gravitas, ha!) and the various recurring features like "Katie's Notebook" (basically a video blog post) and "First Look" (not to be confused with the Early Nightly).

Almost all are written by blog editor Greg Kandra in a style that can only be described as "folksy": He urges Katie to call her parents while she's in D.C. because they'll be "tickled," uses the word "diddly" and in defining the word "panoply," he writes:

Over the summer, I heard Katie use this word a lot in interviews with the media. "We want to cover a whole panoply of things," she'd say. Whatzat mean?

Kandra offers up Couric & Co as a place where readers can "vent, joke, ponder" and even "dream" in a tone that is so relentlessly cheery as to be — dare I say — perky, but therein lies some actual news nuggets, including the following:

  • TiVo failed to record the initial broadcast in homes across the nation because it couldn't tell that "The CBS Evening News with Bob Schieffer" had become "The CBS Evening News with Katie Couric"
  • In response to the flap about whether or not she had sufficient gravitas for the post, Katie would frequently note that "I'm convinced gravitas is Latin for testicles."
  • Said Bush to Katie: "How's Matt Lauer?" Do you think that was a joke or an actual question? Remember, he doesn't read newspapers or watch the news.
  • After the first broadcast, CBS gave out baseball caps with the new logo - but by the time they got to the blog staff, the hats were all gone. Aw! Moonves and McManus, pony up!

The blog has jolly behind-the-scenes pics from D.C., chirpy updates from the producer, and an inspiring quote from one of them Shakespeares. It's a far cry from the analysis and this-is-our-world tone of The Daily Nightly, possibly because pretty much only Kandra is writing it; so far, Katie speaks on vid but has not yet properly blogged. Presumably the news value will increase with more correspondent submissions (The Daily Nightly relies just as much on dispatchs from David Gregory and Campbell Brown, with Richard Engel "Blogging Baghdad." The CBS site, however, is a step above TDN, with links everywhere you'd need them (permalinked title; top segments; links to the broadcast. So really there's no shortage of Katie, except for in the one way in which it matters on a blog: As author.

I will admit that the wide-eyed folksy thing grew on me, though I have no doubt that the blogging intelligentsia and TVNews mavens will surely rip its lack of erudition and sophistication. But really, that's not the audience, anyway. This reminds me of that scene in The Rocky Horror Picture Show (a classic - hear me out) when Frank N. Furter presents the muscular, chiseled Rocky to Janet and asks her what she thinks. Glancing at scrawny Brad beside her, she says "Oh, I don't like men with too many muscles." Frank, offended, looks at her and sniffs, "I didn't make him for you." Such is the case with "Couric & Co." — they're not writing for gravitas-hounding critics, they're writing to the audience that will enjoy the behind-the-scenes pics and chatty quotables, the same audience that probably will write in with suggested sign-offs. Less than winning over those who write about it, CBS needs to win over the people who might actually watch it.

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