CBS Anchor Katie Couric
Role models are important in everyone's success
CBS News anchor Katie Couric talks to Scholastic Kid Reporter Jacob Wieseneck at the CBS studios in New York City, February 2007. (Photo: Suzanne Freeman)
There’s a lot to celebrate this Women’s History Month. Three major positions usually held by men are now in the hands of some of the most recognized, respected, and powerful women in America.
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton is the first female presidential candidate considered a front-runner. Representative Nancy Pelosi has been elected as the first female Speaker of the House. And Katie Couric has become the first solo female anchor of the evening news for a major network.
"This is a historical moment and I think that things are changing,” Couric said. “And, ultimately, I think we will get to point where the general American success story will not be eclipsed by the shadow of gender."
Couric recently sat down with Scholastic News to talk about these latest historic accomplishments for women. The meeting was held in her white and silver office overlooking the CBS Evening Newsroom in New York City.
“I feel privileged to be in this position,” she said. “I hope I can inspire girls to follow their dreams.”
Couric grew up in Arlington, Virginia. She began her career in journalism as a student at the University of Virginia writing for the Cavalier Daily newspaper. After college she became a desk assistant at ABC News in Washington, D.C., and then joined CNN.
While at CNN, Couric had what could have been a career-ending experience while covering the President at the White House. She was so bad on air that the president of CNN called the Washington Bureau Chief and told him that he did not want to see her on television again! Couric was at first demoralized.
"But I realized that one person was not going to get me down,” she said. “ I decided to live my life for me and go on."
She turned the experience into a learning opportunity instead of a point of failure.
Couric definitely succeeded. On April 5, 1991, she became the co-anchor of NBC’s Today Show. During her 15 years with Today, Couric covered history in the making, including the Columbine school shootings, the funeral of Princess Diana, the Oklahoma City bombing, six Olympic Games, and the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
She has also interviewed important people including Presidents Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush; British Prime Minister Tony Blair; John F. Kennedy Jr.; Bill Gates; and J.K. Rowling. Just to name a few!
On April 5, 2006, her 15th anniversary on Today, Couric announced that she would be moving to CBS as the sole anchor and managing editor of the Evening News. With this change in title, Couric made television history for women in broadcast journalism.
In addition to her successful television career, Couric is the mother of two girls and has authored two children’s books. Both teach lessons and are based on personal experience. Her books show that each person has something that he or she is good at, but that everyone has to work to find out what that is. She believes everyone needs good role models to lead the way.
Couric’s role models growing up were Gloria Steinem, a journalist and women’s rights advocate, and Barbara Walters, the first female co-anchor of NBC’s Today Show and current host of The View. Couric feels that Walters really “paved the way for women in journalism.”
Lining the walls of Couric’s office are pictures of inspiring women like former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, activist Sojourner Truth, and former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.
Today, she says she can’t name one specific role model.
“I admire women who work and try to raise a family, who do the best they can to be successful and to help others in their community,” Couric says.
For more on the achievements and contributions of women in the United States, check out the Scholastic Kids Press Corps' Women's History Month Special Report.
Jacob Wieseneck is a member of the Scholastic Kids Press Corps.