Thursday, April 06, 2006

# Posted 10:43 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

KATIE COURIC: I had no idea how rich the woman is. According to Howard Kurtz's front-pager in the Post, Couric has been earning $15-16 million per year at NBC since 2001. Apparently, Couric's salary is well worth it for NBC, which earns $250 million a year from the Today Show, according to PBS.

What I found interesting about Kurtz's article was that it made no mention of either Couric's politics or of the unusual events surrounding Dan Rather's departure. In contrast, PBS made the near-obligatory reference to Rathergate but didn't raise the issue of Couric's poitics. Perhaps not surprisingly, the media extends itself the courtesy of assumin that all journalists have no beliefs.

Well then, what are Couric's politics? I don't have much to go on in this department, except her appearances as a panelist on Meet the Press. In that capacity, she's expressed opinions (at least in the last five or six months) that are pretty mainstream Democratic. I can't recall her challenging the left-of-center conventional wisdom, but she is willing to correct the excesses of liberal firebrands like Donna Brazile and Katrina Vanden Heuvel.

Although the blogosphere doesn't pay much attention to the evening news, the fact remains that Couric will be reaching out to 8-10 million Americans every night. Even the President doesn't have that prerogative.
(8) opinions -- Add your opinion

Well then, what are Couric's politics?
This is a good primer.
Thank you, Steve. What I like about people like the MRC is the implicit assumption that Republicanism is Man's Natural State, and that people who deviate from it are, well, deviants; aberrations.
I'm less interested in her politics than about the fact that CBS thinks the evening news anchor is worth $20M.

When I first heard the story, my first reaction was, "Moneyball". It seems to me that evening news anchors are overvalued.
MRC has its faults, but that page is mostly Couric in her own words. CBS has replaced one partisan with another.
I heard she's a Nazi liberal or something like that.
Jesus Steve. The people you link to seem a little crazy. If I had to monitor the Today show for bias everyday I think I would go postal.
Independent George, brush up on your economics. Of course, it could be a bizarre aberration, but, chances are, the evening news anchor *is* worth $20M. As pointed out above, what Couric was paid was a fraction of what the Today show earned, likely in large part due to her appealing perkiness (hey, that's why I watched it!). Most CEOs are paid millions or more because the board expects them to earn the company many times more than their salary. This is econ 101 stuff, really. It may not be morally right, or whatever, but it is entirely rational.

I apologize if I'm misinterpretting your comments, but you seem to be assuming that because of efficient markets, CBS wouldn't pay $20M for an anchor unless the anchor was worth at least $20,000,001 in revenues. The precise reason that I mentioned Moneyball is because I suspect that the evening news is an industry like baseball: despite cutthroat competition, decades of tradition and entrenched 'wisdom' have made the market inefficient. The evening news is a 'prestige' carrier for television, and the anchor is the symbol of that prestige (how often do you see the news described as the 'flagship'? How much does the evening news earn compared to, say, 'CSI'?). The issue for me is that prestige doesn't necessarily translate to dollars, and a $20M anchor isn't necessarly the best investment. An anchor doesn't have anywhere near the influence of a CEO, and the economics of the evening news is a lot less transparent than at GE.

Besides which, to go back to Econ 101, the pertinent question is not the total revenues, but the marginal ones. Suppose Anchor A costs $150k, and generates $3M in revenues. Anchor B costs $1M, and generates $6M in revenues. Anchor C costs $5M, and generates $10M in revenues. All 3 are profitable, Anchor C produces the most revenues (and prestige), but Anchor B is the best investment. The pertinent question is, at what point do you reach diminishing returns? What dollar value do you place on prestige? My argument is that a $20M anchor is more about buzz or prestige than it is about economics.
Post a Comment