Up Close And Too Personal; Katie Couric

Up Close And Too Personal; Katie Couric 1She is already the most heavily scrutinized, psychoanalyzed and gossiped-about anchor in network history, and she hasn’t yet uttered a single “good evening” on a CBS newscast.

Katie Couric’s wardrobe has been analyzed by the Wall Street Journal, her makeup assailed in USA Today, her dating life examined by Parade magazine, her fitness for nightly news duty debated by columnists, cable combatants, bloggers and bloviators.

“I’m really focused on work and trying to tune the other stuff out, because it could potentially drive you absolutely out of your mind,” Couric says in a conference room down the hall from the new set being constructed for her Sept. 5 debut.

When she takes the helm of the “CBS Evening News,” Couric’s challenge to NBC’s Brian Williams and ABC’s Charlie Gibson will mark the first such three-way showdown since Dan Rather, Tom Brokaw and Peter Jennings initially went at it in the early 1980s. But the media landscape has shifted dramatically since then, leaving this trio fighting for a shrinking slice of the audience and increasingly taking their battle online.

Because Couric is both the first woman to serve as a solo nightly news anchor and a big-time celebrity, some are casting her debut as the biggest event of the fall television season. After 15 years as a popular morning personality at NBC, she is armed with some new ideas — including a regular soapbox segment for advocates and activists — to jazz up an evening news format that sometimes seems set in concrete.
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