It is certainly good news that Yahoo, deeply into reinventing itself, has hired Katie Couric as its “global anchor.” That’s a sure sign that Yahoo under Marissa Mayer has grown confident enough that it can make vanity hires that don’t seem to make a lick of sense. Usually only much more renowned organizations do things like that.
By some measure, Couric is pretty hot property, currently something like the sixth most popular daytime talk show host on television. She holds her own against talk show heavies, recently ranked by Nielsen betweeen Maury Povich and Steve Harvey. Those guys are among the nation’s thought-leaders.
Despite that kind of popularity, there has been some concern about whether a year three of “Katie” will still happen, and her show’s time period has been downgraded in a few markets. Cut her some slack. She’s been doing that daily show while also paid as a special correspondent at ABC News, but then again, with a schedule like hers, she hasn’t appeared on a news program in…a long time.
Her duties running the Yahoo begin in January and will allow her to keep doing the talk show, but as it so happens stations are obligated to carry her show only until the end of May. So it could be she’ll have significantly more free time next year. In The New York Times, she said she enjoys being “of the moment” and how convenient for her the next moment might have just kind of rolled in there.
Among network-level stars, Couric has been somewhat of an early adopter of Internet. As she told Ad Age, “I've always been interested in new media -- it's so antiquated to call it new media -- but I've always been interested in the digital space, as far back as when I was at CBS doing Web-only interview shows, election coverage and taking questions from Facebook and Twitter on CBS News. It was considered avant-garde back then. I don't think it's been done with that much regularity. For all those reasons, it's a great opportunity. It's something exciting. I'm always looking for ways to challenge myself.”
And that she has at Yahoo, because the job and opportunity is so new and exciting Couric couldn’t quite describe what it is. She told the Associated Press, "I will be involved in developing a lot of concepts, but not necessarily doing everything. I will be doing interviews, but not on a daily basis. Probably monthly at this point."
But being the global anchor for Yahoo, which has the most–visited news site on the Web, could be something like being the anchor of a newscast. Couric also did that, at CBS, for five years in which viewers stubbornly kept to their habits of mainly watching NBC and ABC.
Yahoo, wisely perhaps, wants to put a face to its content. Couric is apparently that person, and maybe she's just the right amount of famous for Yahoo. To younger Yahoo visitors, who are not the target audience for network newscasts or syndicated talk shows and may have scurrying off to the school bus when she co-hosted the “Today Show “ at the beginning of this century, Couric could be that fresh, older face all Websites seem to be clamoring to provide.