Katie Couric is leaving NBC's "Today" show. On her 15th anniversary on the program, Couric told viewers this morning that she's leaving at the end of May.
In an emotional farewell that mixed tears and fond humor, Couric said she made the decision after listening to her heart and gut.
The 49-year-old Couric is the longest-serving anchor in "Today" show history. She called it "an honor and a privilege" to serve in that role for so long.
She said she's heading to CBS to anchor the CBS Evening News, becomming the first woman to be a sole anchor on a network evening newscast.
Lightening the mood after Couric made her announcement, Today co-host Matt Lauer, quickly quipped, "Also coming up in this half hour."
April 5, 2006
KATIE COURIC IS JOINING CBS NEWS
Couric Will Become Anchor and Managing Editor of
The CBS EVENING NEWS WITH KATIE COURIC
Will Also Contribute to 60 MINUTES and Anchor Primetime Specials
Katie Couric, one of broadcasting’s most respected and popular journalists, is joining CBS News, it was announced today by Leslie Moonves, President and Chief Executive Officer, CBS Corporation, and Sean McManus, President, CBS News and Sports.
As part of the multi-year agreement, Couric will become Anchor and Managing Editor of the CBS EVENING NEWS WITH KATIE COURIC beginning in September. Couric also will contribute to 60 MINUTES, the most successful program in television history and its most respected news magazine, and will anchor CBS News primetime specials as well.
With the appointment, Couric becomes the first female solo anchor of a network evening news broadcast.
“It has been a great privilege to be one of the caretakers of a television institution like the ‘Today’ show for 15 years,” said Couric. “Joining CBS is a unique opportunity that came at the right time for me. I’m thrilled to become part of the rich tradition of CBS News and look forward to working with the many extraordinarily talented people there.”
“I’m personally so excited that Katie Couric is coming to the CBS News family,” said Moonves. “With this move, our News Division takes yet another giant leap forward. Katie is simply one of the best in the business and represents a tremendous addition to CBS News, which continues to grow and improve every day under Sean’s leadership. Seasoned broadcasters who are at once respected, charismatic and known throughout this country and beyond are increasingly important in this fragmented media landscape. I’m proud to have a talent like Katie who personifies this rare combination of qualities, and look forward to the many contributions that she will make not only to our developing evening news broadcast, but to our entire news operation.”
“This is an enormously proud day for all of us at CBS News,” said McManus. “Katie joining our team signifies not only her commitment to doing first-rate journalism, but our strong commitment to producing the highest quality work done by the best reporters, producers and writers in television news. She is a key ingredient as we work towards our goal of making CBS News the number one news organization in America. This organization was built on quality and integrity, and Katie and her CBS News colleagues will continue to carry that legacy into the 21st century. I would also like to offer our deepest thanks to Bob Schieffer for his outstanding work on the evening broadcast and look forward to his continuing role at CBS News.”
“I couldn’t be happier,” said Schieffer, Anchor, CBS EVENING NEWS WITH BOB SCHIEFFER. “Katie and I have been friends for years. She’s going to be a terrific addition to CBS News. I think we’re going to love Katie, and I think Katie’s going to love us.”
“In the past year, the CBS EVENING NEWS has begun to build a broadcast with a fresh, accessible approach, and viewers have responded,” said Rome Hartman, Executive Producer, CBS EVENING NEWS WITH BOB SCHIEFFER. “Katie is the perfect person to complete that process. As a journalist, an interviewer and a broadcaster, she is as good as they come. As anchor of the CBS EVENING NEWS, the same qualities that viewers have appreciated for Katie’s entire career will make her great: honesty, openness, integrity. Finally, what people appreciate most about Katie is that she’s real -- that’s really her up on the screen. I cannot wait to start working with her.”
“Katie is a world-class reporter,” said Jeff Fager, Executive Producer, 60 MINUTES. “There aren’t many people in this business who can conduct an interview as well as she can. It’s no wonder Don Hewitt was chasing her for years to be on this broadcast, and it’s exciting that it’s finally going to happen.”
Couric joined NBC News in 1989 as deputy Pentagon reporter. She began work on “Today” in June 1990 as its first national correspondent, which included two stints covering the Gulf War. Couric served as substitute co-anchor from February 1991 until taking over the job permanently on April 5, 1991. She also was a contributing anchor for “Dateline NBC.”
Couric has anchored many major breaking news events over the past 15 years, including the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center; the Columbine tragedy in Colorado; six Olympic Games, including the 1996 Atlanta Olympic bombing; the funeral of Princess Diana; the Oklahoma City bombing; the Timothy McVeigh execution; the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings; and the end of the millennium coverage, which she co-anchored with Tom Brokaw.
She has interviewed an extraordinarily diverse collection of newsmakers, from presidents and prime ministers to captains of industry and cultural icons. Couric has interviewed Presidents Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush when he was a presidential candidate, along with all of the major presidential candidates over the past several elections. She has also sat down with Vice President Dick Cheney, Colin Powell, Madeleine Albright, Sandra Day O’Connor and First Ladies Laura Bush, Hillary Clinton, Nancy Reagan, Rosalynn Carter, Betty Ford and Lady Bird Johnson. Couric has interviewed major world leaders including Kofi Annan, Tony Blair, Ariel Sharon, Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah (in his first U.S. television interview), Benjamin Netanyahu and Shimon Peres. Other Couric interviews include Bill Gates; Tricia Meili, the Central Park Jogger; the last interview with John F. Kennedy, Jr.; and a myriad of other authors, politicians and newsmakers.
Couric is the recipient of a George Foster Peabody Award for her March 2000 series on colon cancer. Those reports contributed to the 2001 RTNDA-Edward R. Murrow Award for Overall Excellence won by NBC News. She also has won six Emmy Awards, the Society of Professional Journalists’ Sigma Delta Chi Award, a National Headliner Award, an Associated Press Award, a Matrix Award, two American Women in Radio and Television Gracie Awards, the Harvard University School of Public Health’s Julius B. Richmond Award and UNICEF’s Danny Kaye Humanitarian Award.
After losing her 42-year-old husband, Jay Monahan, to colon cancer in 1998, Couric embraced the fight against the country’s number two cancer killer. In March 2000, with the Entertainment Industry Foundation and Lilly Tartikoff, she launched the National Colorectal Cancer Research Alliance (NCCRA) to fund new medical research in colorectal cancer and to conduct educational programs encouraging the prevention and early detection of the disease through proper screening. Following Couric’s on-air colonoscopy in 2000, a scientifically documented 20% increase was noted in the number of colonoscopies performed across the country. Researchers at the University of Michigan dubbed this “The Couric Effect.”
Couric also played a leadership role in establishing The Jay Monahan Center for Gastrointestinal Health at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell. The Monahan Center, which opened in March 2004, provides a comprehensive, fully integrated multi-disciplinary program, stressing education and prevention in addition to diagnosis and treatment of gastrointestinal cancers. The Monahan Center mission focuses on the seamless coordination of all needed care for patients and their families facing the difficult diagnosis of gastrointestinal cancer. As part of her work to generate funds for both the Center and the nine scientists whose research the NCCRA supports, Couric has hosted three extremely successful benefits. The most recent, “Hollywood Meets Motown,” took place on March 15, 2006, and showcased about 40 film, recording industry, television and Broadway stars. These three events generated a significant portion of the almost $27 million Couric and EIF’s NCCRA have raised to date to fight colorectal and other GI cancers.
Couric’s broadcast journalism career began as a desk assistant at ABC News in Washington, D.C. (1979). She worked for CNN (1980-84) as an assignment editor, associate producer, producer and, ultimately, political correspondent. Couric was a general assignment reporter for WTVJ Miami (1984-86) and for WRC-TV Washington, D.C. (1987-89).
Couric was born in Arlington, Va. She was graduated with honors from the University of Virginia in 1979 with a bachelor’s degree in English and a focus on American studies. Couric lives in New York with her two daughters.