The 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination has again demonstrated the importance of the news anchor. CBS newsman Walter Cronkite and his words, “the flash, apparently official…” more familiar even to a UK audience than whoever was presenting the BBC News on that fateful day in Dallas. CBS had streamed the original telecast over the internet to coincide with last Friday’s anniversary.
In these days of multichannel, on demand, the on-screen personality, the anchor is more important than ever. In the UK David Dimbleby presides for the BBC, as his father did a generation before, while in the United States the baton has been passed to the likes of Brian Williams.
When mobile TV made its first faltering steps TV companies thought we wanted repurposed content. So instead of the regular anchors, MSNBC launched a separate service with unfamiliar faces and a screen more suitable for the devices of the day. It lost out in audiences to the regular service, also available on the platform, but carrying the names people knew.
So with this in mind we learnt this week that Katie Couric, the former host of NBC Today and CBS News, was to become “Global News Anchor” for Yahoo. “The reach is extraordinary. I learned that when I did my interview with Sarah Palin for CBS and more people saw it online than on a TV platform…I’m excited to take advantage of that in the best possible way,” Couric told Glamour magazine (bookmark this page, it’s probably the last time we’ll quote Glamour for a while).
Yahoo News is run by ABC News and is a move worth watching for another dynamic of an internet company looking to crossover into the broadcast world. The MSNBC link with Microsoft has long since been broken.
It all comes at a time when telcos are looking at the cable sector and memories of poorly executed portals are dim and distant.
Welcome back convergence.