It’s been four months since Katie Couric announced she was becoming the first-ever Global Anchor at Yahoo, and we still have no idea what that means. Apparently, neither do people at Yahoo.
“When it comes to digital, I think Katie’s going to have a serious problem adjusting to that. I don’t understand what [Yahoo President and CEO Marissa] Mayer wants from her,” a source who has worked with Couric tells us. “She’s not Internet savvy. So she tweets — who doesn’t?”
Couric took the position at Yahoo for a reported $6 million salary amid the cancelation of her daytime talk show, “Katie.” That’s a big salary but not much compared to the $15 million salary she once earned as an evening news anchor at CBS.
“I think she was looking for an out,” explains the source. “She had this talk show and the full power of ABC-Disney behind her, every resource, and a huge marketing campaign — but it still didn’t work.”
Couric says in a new Yahoo News promotional video that her role will be interviewing “politicians, thought leaders, cultural icons, and tech titans,” and she has already interviewed former Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former Defence Secretary Robert Gates for the site — big names though people who are hardly media shy.
Longtime Hollywood publicist Howard Bragman, who is now vice chairman of Reputation.com, gives a more optimistic outlook on Couric’s next step: “I think it’s a really smart move for her, but perhaps an even smarter move for Yahoo. It’s clear that where people get their news from is changing in pretty extraordinary ways and familiarity breeds content. As Yahoo does more original content, Katie is a face who people know, a face people trust.”
Bragman predicts a convergence of TV and digital news, which Couric could fit into nicely.
“I think you will find digital is going to get more like traditional TV and traditional TV is going to get more like digital,” explains Bragman. “Meaning, on digital, the production quality is going to improve, the shows are going to be better defined instead of just segments, and I think they’re going to evolve into more of a traditional TV-like atmosphere. Traditional TV is realising timeliness is huge, being live is huge — some of the things that digital has known for a long time. And as they meld into each other, she gets it.”
It helps that Couric is resilient.
“Katie has not always exceeded expectations in everything she does, but she keeps coming back and she keeps fighting. She’s willing to try new things and for that I give her a lot of credit. There’s a lot of people who have disappeared; she’s lasted,” Bragman says.
Still, a former staffer of Couric’s warns, “I can see a very similar pattern happening — before Katie arrives her people roll in, they act like ‘we’re Katie’s people, here’s how it’s going to roll.’ I think that’s starting to happen at Yahoo and I don’t think it’s going to roll.”
A Yahoo source confirms that, indeed, current staffers and freelancers are already being forced to share desk space to make room for Couric’s people.
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