After almost five years as anchor of CBS Evening News, Katie Couric will be stepping down in June. As expected, she made the announcement this afternoon. And as expected, she made it in a low-key fashion, just briefly acknowledging her pending departure in a statement to People. “I have decided to step down from the CBS Evening News,” Couric said. “I’m really proud of the talented team on the CBS Evening News and the award-winning work we’ve been able to do in the past five years in addition to the reporting I’ve done for 60 Minutes and CBS Sunday Morning. In making the decision to move on, I know the Evening News will be in great hands, but I am excited about the future.” She didn’t want to discuss her future plans beyond saying that she is looking for “a format that will allow me to engage in more multi-dimensional storytelling,” but the decision to make her announcement to People vs. a news-oriented outlet is a clear indication of her pending switch from hard news to daytime TV. As for Couric’s future destination, expected to be announced in the next week or two, early frontrunner NBC is “fading out,” a source close to the situation said. With Telepictures/CNN also recently leaving the picture, it is down to CBS and ABC, whose late offer is said to be very lucrative, especially on the news side, which has been important to Couric, including participation in the coverage of the 2012 presidential elections. While CBS has the pull of a very strong syndication division and a spot on the most revered newsmagazine, 60 Minutes, the company’s executives have started managing expectations, telling TV Guide magazine that they expect Couric to go to ABC.
Since joining CBS News in 2006 after 15 years as co-anchor of NBC’s Today, Couric served as anchor and managing editor of CBS Evening News, the first woman to become solo anchor of a weekday network evening news broadcast. She has also been a 60 Minutes correspondent, a position she is expected to keep if she decides to stay with CBS with a new syndicated daytime talk show. Despite Couric’s enormous popularity and the publicity blitz surrounding the launch of CBS Evening News with her behind the anchor desk, after an initial ratings surge, the newscast quickly returned to third place where CBS Evening News had been stuck for years. It has scored better with critics. Last year alone, CBS Evening News With Katie Couric earned two News Emmys. Additionally, 60 Minutes won an Emmy for Couric’s interview with Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger. In addition to that sitdown, Couric also made headlines with her 2008 interview with vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. In addition to her TV presence, Couric also hosts @katiecouric, a weekly CBS News webcast, and has her own YouTube channel.
Coming up next week is CBS News’ announcement of Scott Pelley as the new anchor of CBS Evening News.