Laurie Ott interviews Katie Couric, Part 1

By: Laurie Ott
By: Laurie Ott

August 17, 2006

She started out her journalism career in 1979 as a desk assistant at a Washington DC news bureau, and in less than month she'll take over the anchor desk of the CBS Evening News.

Now Katie Couric tells me she's ready to take on the challenge of stepping into history she's hoping you'll tune in to watch.

"I'm excited," she said, laughing. "I'm glad to hear other people are excited, other than my mom and dad."

There's one thing you notice about Katie Couric--it's that she dearly loves to laugh.

She laughed often in our interview in New York last week.

It is perhaps one of the reasons we all feel like we really know her.

"I did the Today show for 15 years, and people lived my life with me--my contemporaries, women got older with me, had children with me, maybe experienced hardships and tragedy with me," she said. "In part with a program like that you have a familial feeling and a real relationship with people."

"You're an award winning journalist; you're going to be managing editor of the CBS evening news; what can we expect as viewers?" I asked.

"The newscast is not going to change dramatically," Ms. Couric said. "We'll still be telling you the important stories of the day, but we'll hopefully have a fresh approach, more time for the top story, talking less about what's happened and giving more insight into why and what the repercussions of a story might be."

"We're going to do more solution-oriented pieces that tell 'here is a program that's working', stories that give hope and optimism...because the world is a scary and complicated place right now."

And Ms. Couric says she hopes to provide context by offering up more diverse opinions from both experts and the rest of us.

"We're also doing a segment called Free Speech," she said. "Average citizens as well as well known thinkers can opt to express an opinion on subjects to promote discussion and civil discourse."

"We're going to try some things, and some will work and some will lay some big fat eggs, but to try a new approach creatively."

And speaking of creating, they've already got a new evening news theme, and they're currently building a new set for Ms. Couric.

Here's what it looked like last week.

It will be all finished by September 5, the night Ms. Couric begins her new role as the anchor and managing editor of the CBS Evening News.

And it's really a first when she does take over. She is indeed the first woman to helm a network newscast by herself.

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