Ted Koppel's New Line, All Of Them

  • by January 13, 2006
Now that Ted Koppel has left ABC's "Nightline," it appears likely that American news junkies will be more exposed to him than ever. On Tuesday it was announced that Koppel has signed on for two new gigs--in addition to a previously announced new post at the Discovery Channel--that will put him front and center before a well-heeled and educated demographic that advertisers are sure to be interested in pursuing.

The first assignment is with The New York Times, where the venerable broadcast journalist will test his writing skills as a contributing columnist to the illustrious newspaper's Op-Ed page. His debut effort will be published January 29, and will appear periodically thereafter, according to Editorial Page Editor Gail Collins.

Later in the day, National Public Radio announced that Koppel will join NPR in June with the title of "Senior News Analyst." He will contribute to the network's radio news programs and "all new media platforms."

NPR said that Koppel had agreed to provide analysis and commentary on its national news programming about 50 times a year--including the popular news magazines "Morning Edition," "All Things Considered," and "Day to Day." He will also serve as an analyst during breaking news and special events coverage. And as if that wasn't enough, Koppel also will contribute to NPR's Web site and podcasts.



Earlier this month, Koppel was named managing editor of the Discovery Channel--where he will host and produce long-form programming on global news events, including documentaries and town halls. As part of his new NPR deal, NPR and Discovery Channel have agreed that NPR can make the audio simulcast of the television town hall events available to its member stations for broadcast.

There's no question that Koppel has the news chops for each of his new assignments. He is a highly accomplished, well-regarded, experienced news professional with a closet full of the most distinguished awards the industry has to offer. But his newfound ubiquity raises the question of whether he is taking on too much too soon after his departure from "Nightline," and whether he might run the risk of being overexposed to American consumers.

At least one prominent observer of the American media scene doesn't think so.

"It doesn't sound to me like he's taking on too much at all," said author and New Yorker media writer Ken Auletta. "I think all three new jobs combined are still less work than he had at 'Nightline,' even though he had cut back to maybe three or four nights a week."

Auletta pointed out that Koppel would do "roughly six programs a year" for the Discovery Channel, and that his newspaper column would only appear occasionally. As far as the radio work is concerned, Auletta said it would be easy for Koppel to do shows where he was being interviewed by an anchor about news events.

"That kind of analytical commentary is not hard for a guy like Koppel to prepare for," Auletta said. "Just his normal everyday reading and talking with people would make him ready for something like that." Producing radio shows would constitute considerably more effort, but Auletta said he doubted Koppel would do that kind of work for NPR. Auletta said Koppel was "as good as they come in any kind of journalism"--someone who wanted to do serious work that would be understood and appreciated by a mature audience.

"Here's a guy who is basically frustrated with ABC and the other networks because they don't want to do the kind of serious journalism that he's interested in doing," Auletta said. "So now he's picked three places where he can do serious work and not have to worry about boring his audience. What he's done is found three homes that welcome the kind of work he does. Good for him."

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