BROKAW SAYS HE WARNED COURIC
Former NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw has said that he attempted to warn Katie Couric about the pitfalls that awaited her as she moved from host of the Today show to anchor of the CBS Evening News. In an interview with the Boston Herald, Brokaw said, "I told her when she left that it's a dive off the high board. ... This is harder than it looks, to go from the morning to the evening." Brokaw himself had made a similar dive in 1983, when he, too left the Today show to become an evening anchor. Brokaw remarked that CBS "made a number of mistakes in terms of how they marketed her and what their approach to the news was," before cutting off the discussion about Couric. "The last thing I'm going to do is get involved in Katie's business," he said. As for the current debate over whether networks and stations should do away with high-profile, high-priced news personalities and invest the money in news gathering, Brokaw remarked succinctly, "People watch people" and pointed to the appeal of Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite.
COURIC'S DIVE CONTINUES
CBS executives who hired Katie Couric in the belief that she might attract younger viewers were likely dismayed by the latest Nielsen ratings, which show that she lost viewers in every demographic group but one -- older viewers. For the season to date, Couric's total audience is down 10 percent from last year, averaging 6.61 million (last week it attracted just 5.56 million). Among adults 25-54, she's down 12 percent from a year ago. For the season, ABC's World News with Charles Gibson and NBC's Nightly News with Brian Williams are running neck-and-neck, with Gibson holding a statistically insignificant lead of 8.03 million to Williams's 7.92 million. The median age of a Couric viewer is 61, slightly higher than the 60.5 of her predecessor Dan Rather's viewers.
THE CW YANKS GOSSIP GIRL FROM THE WEB
While ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox continue to place shows on the Internet so that viewers may watch them on demand, the low-rated CW network said Thursday that it will reverse course and not make the remaining episodes of Gossip Girl, one of its more popular shows available for online streaming. In an interview with the New York Times, CW spokesman Paul McGuire suggested that Gossip Girl's online episodes may be cannibalizing the show's audience. Yanking the show off the Internet, he said, "is an experiment to see if this moves the [Nielsen ratings] needle at all." The show will continue to be available for purchase on Apple's iTunes store for $1.99 per episode. (The first new episode of the show since the writers' strike is due to air on April 21.
ABC SWAMPED BY COMPLAINTS ABOUT DEBATE MODERATORS
ABC's switchboard and website were flooded with thousands of complaints from viewers about the network's handling of the Clinton-Obama debate on Wednesday. The Associated Press reported that the ABC website had posted nearly 17,000 complaints by Thursday. Like numerous columnists, most of the callers and bloggers expressed outrage that many of the questions from moderators Charles Gibson and George Stephanopoulos appeared aimed at drawing more heat than light. Gibson himself reported about the "debate over the debate" on his World News newscast Thursday night, while Stephanopoulos told the Associated Press, "We wanted to focus at first on the issues that were not focused on during the last debates." Speaking at a rally in North Carolina, Obama declared, "Last night I think we set a new record because it took us 45 minutes before we even started talking about a single issue that matters to the American people." In an editorial appearing in today's (Friday) Sacramento Bee, the debate was compared to an episode of the Jerry Springer Show. "The questions were set up to demean the candidates and to bait them into small-minded mudslinging," the newspaper said. Columnist Will Bunch in the Philadelphia Daily News wrote caustically that Gibson and Stephanopoulos "disgraced my profession of journalism, and, by association, me and a lot of hard working colleagues who do still try to ferret out the truth." A Newsday editorial summed up: "Voters deserve better."