Katie Couric Out at CBS News; Engadget Crew Ditches AOL For SB Nation


Every time we turn around there’s a switch-up at the newly Arianna Huffington-helmed AOL and Huffington Post hybrid, with the boss simultaneously cleaning house and sprucing up, by kicking AOL-ers to the curb and hiring up a handful of big names. The Huffington reign has left a large number scrambling, with some staking out new land and others unsure where to head next. More on the upheaval inside Press Clips, our daily media column. Plus, Katie Couric’s long-expected exit from the nightly news, Andrew Sullivan’s new home and (almost) a big scam at Condé Nast.

Katie Out Quick: Everyone is reporting today what everyone already knew, which is that Katie Couric will not last more than 5 years as the host of CBS Evening News, where she became the first woman to ever host a nightly newscast alone. The confirmation comes from an anonymous network source, but has been rumored for a while with Couric’s contract set to expire on June 4.

“We have no announcements to make at this time. Until we do, we will continue to decline comment on rumor or speculation,” said a CBS News spokesperson, according to the Associated Press.

“Ditto,” said Couric’s representative. (Really, he said that.)

Though Couric consistently comes in third to the evening news at NBC and ABC, CBS could conceivably keep her on for a syndicated daytime talk show, because “the upcoming departure in May of Oprah Winfrey will leave a huge void in the talk show marketplace.” NBC, where Couric hosted Today for years, is also a contender to grab the host back. There is a college seminar buried not-so-deep in this saga, and it’s mostly about gender studies. The Q&A that Couric did for the upcoming issue of the New York Times Magazine, in which she says being described as “perky” is better than being called “bitchy,” would be required reading.

The AOL Era:
The move of AOL from dial-up internet behemoth to news and content provider has been a longish time coming, writes David Carr in his Monday media column. The purchase of technology blog Engadget, back in 2005, was a step in the direction that Arianna Huffington is now sprinting toward, but the Engadget team, under its third editor Joshua Topolsky, didn’t want to run the relay with Huffington’s team.

Instead, Carr reports, Topolsky and at least eight of his Engadget staff are leaving AOL to build a new tech-blog with one-time AOL exec Jim Bankoff, now at SB Nation, a popular upstart. Topolsky tells his own side of the story here. Though much is made about what the personnel switch will mean for Engadget in the Times, Business Insider argues that readers simply don’t care, and that bylines and mastheads are pretty much worthless. (But, but…!)

That’s true, of course, but it also disrupts what’s becoming a highly engaging media narrative for the few who do care. That is, Arianna’s struggle toward legitimacy, in the face of skeptics and bullies like the New York Times, and who decides they want to be a part of that fight versus who would rather stay out of it. As anyone who has ever lost a brain cell or seven clicking around a HuffPo breast implants slideshow can tell you, it’s doubtlessly an uphill climb. But for all of her team’s own scumminess or shadiness, Arianna and co. have come across as worth rooting for, at least when compared to the critics they’ve come up against. (Paying their bloggers is another matter altogether.)

If your head hasn’t exploded yet, both Jeff Jarvis and Felix Salmon have good takes on the Times‘ indications that they’re feeling threatened and what it means for the bigger picture. If you’re the type of person who cares about bylines, that is.

Moving Day: Andrew Sullivan’s blog has relocated to the Tina Brown-run Daily Beast and Newsweek combo-publication, speaking of big media mergers run by wacky, successful women. It looks the same, meaning Sullivan and his readers and Newsweek all win. (Sullivan earned a quarter of the Atlantic‘s online traffic.) The blog is called “The Dish” now, instead of “The Daily Dish,” so either the Atlantic owned that part or Brown is indeed playing editor again.

Condé Pay Day: A fake email, claiming to be from Condé Nast’s magazine publishing company, requested funds to a specific bank account, so the company complied. It was a scam — a one email scam — to the tune of $8 million. No one really batted an eye and now everything’s okay anyway. That’s how easy it is to work at a magazine, kids.

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 4, 2011

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