Joe Lavin

August 22, 2006

That's The Way It's Going To Be, September 5th, 2006

Those of you reading who happen to be over 75 are no doubt getting ready for September 5th. The rest of us will be out living our lives, of course, but that's the day when Katie Couric will finally be taking over The CBS Evening News. This marks the first time a woman will officially anchor a nightly network newscast on her own. It's also the first time ever that CBS will allow somebody who's mostly living to do the news. It's a bold move hiring a mostly living person for the evening news, but CBS is currently in last place, and it's time to take some chances.

Okay, I'm generalizing here. There are some young people who do watch the network news. I myself try to watch it occasionally, but often when I'm home at that time there are people on ESPN loudly debating whatever stupid thing Terrell Owens just did, and my remote control accidentally gets stuck. I've called the cable company for assistance, but to no avail. Still, for some reason, there's this old-fashioned part of me fascinated by the evening news, so much so that I find myself reading articles about it. Sometimes in an actual newspaper.

And so, like many people, I have suggestions on how to make The CBS Evening News more relevant to our lives. Don't get too excited. It's not like I'm going to start watching it or anything, but perhaps the network could do a few things that will make me feel more guilty about not watching.

More news on the web. Well, actually, they are already planning to do this. CBS recently announced plans to simulcast its signature newscast live on the web. The idea is that since most of us are not home for the news, we can now watch it live from wherever we are. So this means that, if it's 6:30 pm and you're still at the office, you can now delay your commute a half-hour in order to watch the evening news from the comfort of your own cubicle. Somehow, this is supposed to turn around the fortunes of network news.

And while we're simulcasting stuff, here's another idea. Why not simulcast our computer games over the CBS television network?

Bob Schieffer. Luckily, CBS plans to keep the distinguished anchor around for a few more years to provide occasional gravitas whenever Katie gets in over her head. Much like pornography, gravitas is a concept that few can define, but we all know it when we see it. Setting aside the fact that this whole concept of Katie Couric lacking gravitas is a touch sexist, it is always nice to have someone on the news who looks like your uncle but, unlike your uncle, prefers to discuss events in the Middle East rather than his latest back problems.

More publicity. Seriously, Katie, there are some newspapers in the country with whom you haven't given an interview yet. The Sioux Falls Daily Leopard Print and the East Billings Bugle-Informer pop to mind. There was also Katie's recent Listening Tour, which probably came to a city near you this summer. In case you're wondering, a news anchor listening tour is much like a presidential town meeting, except that there is listening. I think it's safe to say that many of us are ready to elect Katie Couric as anchor of The CBS Evening News. The only question left is will we watch her.

More in-depth news. What we all really want is a more informative and even-handed analysis of the day's events featuring newsmaker interviews and a compact summary of world news, much like The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer on PBS. Or at least that's what we all like to tell the pollsters when they interrupt our viewing of Entertainment Tonight with questions about network news.

Live shots of Edward R. Murrow spinning in his grave. Look for some extra torque during the upcoming JonBenet Ramsey trial.

Frequent updates on the ongoing career of Dan Rather. This week, Dan guest hosts Seattle Public Access 26's Week in Review. Join Dan and his guests -- well, actually just Dan really -- as he reviews the week's news and how he would have reported it. Luckily, he's not bitter at all.

Actually, I'm lying. Dan has instead signed a contract with HDNet, a channel with hundreds of more viewers than Seattle Public Access. Here, he will be doing a weekly investigative news show in high-definition. This is based on the slightly shaky premise that if there's one person in America that we all want to see in high definition, it's Dan Rather. Courage.

And finally, four words: Snakes in the studio. Now, there's one way that's guaranteed to make the evening news interesting again.

©2006 Joe Lavin

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