11:16 am Sep. 11, 2012
The Lineup collects the media stories, big and small, that are on our radar each day.
The verdict on 'Katie'
Yesterday was Katie Couric's first chance to put a stake in the audiences (and the paychecks) that were sitting there, presumably still, when Oprah Winfrey left the daytime talk-show landscape looking a little like Oklahoma circa 1889.
How'd she do? The consensus seems to be: not great.
The New York Times' Alessandra Stanley writes:
It’s hard to gauge the likely success of a show based on the first day, but viewers can detect what the network could be worried about. Ms. Couric, more than most news anchors, is a highly paid celebrity who, like many of her guests, finds her personal life filling tabloids and magazine articles. Here she has to be Miss Relatability.
The long-awaited launch of Katie yesterday looked and sounded like a live infomercial. To wit, the first three segments were devoted almost exclusively to guest Jessica Simpson’s post-partum weight loss—thanks to Weight Watchers, of course. There were so many low-rent plugs, I kept waiting for the 800 number and my free Ginsu knife.
If she wanted a soft opening, she got it. You could have thrown this show into a pool and created no ripples.
The Los Angeles Times' Mary McNamara (in a Showtracker post titled "Katie Goes Splat"):
If you were expecting Couric to leverage her anchor experience by making her talk show even a little smarter than most, well, that's not the direction she appears to be choosing. Which brings us back to the heartbreak. Felt not so much for her—in how many venues can a single person expect to be compensated in the millions?—as for us. If Couric was the best and brightest candidate to replace Oprah, things are not looking good, America.
There was some raw enthusiasm for the show from the kinds of celebrity bloggers for whom the factoid of Jessica Simpson's having lost 40 pounds can easily justify more than 30 minutes of pitching Weight Watchers; and our own Matt Haber was a little kinder. After all, this might be the show for people who want this kind of show:
Watching the debut episode of Katie, it's easy to imagine what sort of show viewers will be in for. From the cold open with its echo of the famous "Newhart" dream finale to the controlled, friendly patter of Couric's monologue, during which the host introduced her mother and teenage daughters in the audience and promised to "meet interesting people and talk about things that matter," the whole show has the relaxed, late-afternoon feel of a mom sharing readymade margaritas on the back porch with her girlfriends after a long day of ferrying the kids to soccer practice, bulk shopping at Costco, and reassuring her husband that he doesn't look that bald. There will be no "Soup"-worthy freakouts here, no movie stars jumping on couches, and no surprise paternity tests. In fact, there won't be any surprises at all. It'll just be Katie, America's most professional empathy technician, running out that hour with some dear, dear friends. Pull up a salted glass and listen in, won't you?
That'd be a "no thanks" for us, but it's the millions of viewers still looking for cozy friends at 3 p.m. that will determine the thing.
News Corp. gets another British import
News Corp. has named a new chief technology officer to replace Jon Miller, who stepped down from the post last month.
The new C.T.O. is Paul Cheesbrough, formerly chief information officer of News International, the British publishing unit at the center of the phone-hacking and bribery scandal in the U.K.
From the company's press release:
News Corporation today announced the appointment of Paul Cheesbrough to the role of Chief Technology Officer. In this position, he will be responsible for setting the Company’s global technology strategy as well as coordinating with senior leaders across the organization to develop new digital products and expand the digital footprint of its portfolio of businesses. In addition, he will collaborate with technology teams at the publishing and education businesses and oversee the transition of IT systems relating to the Company’s proposed separation into two distinct companies.
Mr. Cheesbrough will report directly to News Corporation Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch.
“Paul is the rare technologist who is both a visionary and a builder. He will be a driving force as we continue to harness very real opportunities in digital that are deepening our brands’ connection with consumers,” commented Mr. Murdoch. “Paul has led a truly impressive digital reinvention of News International that has positioned our media properties at the forefront of the industry today. I am delighted to expand the scope of his leadership to encompass all of our publishing, media and entertainment assets.”
In other news...
No 9/11 coverage on the front page of today's New York Times. [Poynter]
But the paper's new public editor has some thoughts on how to cover the 11th anniversary of the attacks. [Public Editor's Journal]
The latest on the Times' union contract debacle. [The New York Observer]
Craig Silverman on "Journalism's summer of sin." [Poynter]
Why The New Yorker was temporarily banned from Facebook. [TNY/The Cartoon Bureau]