Katie Couric’s Legs and the Revolution in the Evening Newscast
Katie Couric bewilders me. I applaud her public successes and her $15 million-a-year salary, but for the life of me I can’t understand why, since she announced her switch from ‘The Today Show’ to ‘CBS Evening News,’ she has held the nation’s interest like Paris Hilton.
Sure, she has nice legs, appendages which have inspired tribute Web sites and a handful of Youtube videos. When she guest-hosted ‘The Tonight Show With Jay Leno’ in May 2003, the front of her desk was cut open so the 42 percent more viewers that night could ogle her legs as she interviewed Simon Cowell.
Still, I don’t see Couric’s legs as worthy of the press she got in her network transition period.
Maybe, then, the publicity was stimulated by the fact that Couric has become the first sole female anchor on a major network’s evening newscast. Yet as commendable as that achievement may be, there is nothing spectacular to set her newscast apart from Charles Gibson’s ‘ABC World News’ or Brian Williams’ ‘NBC Nightly News.’
I suppose any press is good press if it gets people to watch the news and becoming aware of the world around them. The audiences of evening news programs have been shrinking for over 30 years. CBS’s first broadcast on Sept. 5 with Couric as its evening news host doubled its normal rating.
In the short-term, I don’t doubt that Couric’s mere presence will boost ratings for CBS and may even have a spillover effect for ABC and NBC.
But expert analysts are unconvinced as to the long-term effect of having Couric at the helm of ‘CBS Evening News.’
Leave it to me, then, to suggest some excellent solutions to further spice up CBS’ evening newscast and help them cash in on consistently higher ratings.
With the old adage that ‘sex sells’ in mind, I strongly suggest stamping out Couric’s questionable sex appeal and replacing it with an unabashedly bold and sexual newscast.
There are two main ways to go about redefining how the United States gets its evening news. The first is simple, inspired by Russians, and would involve attractive, but not too attractive, male and female newscasters to appeal to all but the asexual viewers.
Upon completing each segment, each newscaster would slowly remove an article of clothing while still delivering a report with the same verve as presented currently on NBC, CBS and ABC.
True, the audience’s attention would be diverted toward something besides the words coming out of the newscasters’ mouths, but the beauty of the system is that many audience members would find themselves more knowledgeable about the news than before. After all, viewers must wait until the end of a segment to get their reward.
The alternative approach is inspired by imaginative Facebook groups including ‘If this group reaches 100,000 my girlfriend will have a threesome’ and ‘If this group reaches 100,000 members, God promised my kittens would live!’ (One of the above groups reached nearly 400,000 members and the other just pushed past 100, but I’ll let you, the intelligent UC Irvine student, figure out which is which.)
If, before each CBS newscast, a certain number of hits are received at the CBS news Web site, the two newscasters will allow viewers to vote via phone and Internet on what the newscasters will wear. Not only will this further involve viewers in the newscast, it will greatly increase the traffic on the CBS web site, thus generating more revenue through online advertisements.
Lest viewers feel they need a break from the sexual news goodness, ‘The Daily Show’-style interviewing will be implemented in the newscast. While giving the evening newscast a slight late-night talk show edge, the approach will add humor to an informative broadcast.
When ratings begin to dip from a sky-high to merely incredible, guest hosts will be invited to present some of the news with the regular hosts.
After a while, CBS might cave in and choose to rid itself of this visionary approach to the news, but the system has long-term sustainability. Whenever the network wants a spike in the ratings, a one-night special returning to the edgier newscast format could be adopted.
Unlike the hoopla about Couric and CBS, I would welcome these revolutionary updates to the evening newscast. In the long term, Americans would have a much more positive association with watching the news than if the only sex appeal in the tame newscast they watch is Katie Couric’s legs.