All right. I’ve steadfastly not cared about Katie Couric taking over as anchorwoman for CBS News. Katie Couric has no problems you could pay me to care about. If you pressed me, I’d say it was kind of nice that somebody in her position would abandon playing princess to the anthropomorphic penis that is Matt Lauer and try to do a job at which she might actually fail, instead of coasting on her perky legacy until she dies. Other than that, I have little interest in Ms. Navy SEALS Rock.
I do, however, have a significant amout of interest in how much blogospheric attention gets paid to how the Intarwebs are destroying journalism as we know it, while Katie’s about to get 14 million clams for her services at CBS.
I’d smack that one around for a while, talk about how obscene it is that a job should pay like the Yankees to one shiny news twink while untold producers and reporters in all likelihood get jack, but a couple of the letter-writers and columnists over at Romenesko have done the job for me.
Ms. Couric, I am speaking now not from my positions as a reporter, or officer in a student chapter of the Society for Professional Journalists, but simply as a journalism student. Your salary is unacceptable, and I beg you to consider your options. Taking a $1 million salary would still provide a remarkable stream of income (or perhaps, as a college student, it simply seems remarkable to me) and provide CBS News with a golden opportunity little seen in news today. The $13 million not spent on your salary could easily pay for 40 new reporters at yearly salaries of $50,000, with $11 million left each year to cover their expenses. Would that be an appropriate balance? I am not familiar with the financial necessities of broadcast journalism. Would 20 new reporters and $12 million for expenses be more reasonable? Or perhaps it could fund just one new foreign bureau? I am open to suggestions.
So here is my idea for how Couric could, in an instant, transform her arrival at CBS News from an affirmation of womanhood and an occasion for guaranteed gossipy backlash and ratings scrutiny to a real reinvention of the nightly broadcast: She could announce that half of her annual salary (an estimated $15 million) will be spent on original reporting on issues she thinks are relevant to her viewers, from China to china. It would be her money, so Couric would control it, bringing her distinctive experience and style to news in the way that Oprah has come to influence books, lifestyle choices, and values.
Which are some of the best ideas I’ve heard all day. You could throw even more money into the pot if you halved the salaries of those who hired Katie in the first place, the very same people who will, in six months, tell us the reason they couldn’t investigate lies and the lying liars is that money’s too tight to hire investigative reporters.