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Katie Couric Puts on a Sunny Face for CBS

Katie Couric: girl next door, ratings failure, and phoenix rising from the ashes. Despite earlier reports that Couric would be booted from her position as anchor for the CBS Evening News, she’s pledged to finish her contract through 2011. Add in the launch of a new web-based show this week plus an  interview gig with Glamour magazine, and Katie’s on top of the world. But what on earth could she be planning? A new tactic for media domination? Analysis and clips after the jump.

Trailing in third place in the evening news category (averaging 5-6 million viewers a night, compared to NBC’s 8 million), Couric is diversifying her reach by capitalizing on her strengths as an interviewer. Her first column for Glamour, a profile of First Lady Michelle Obama appearing in the December issue, is unlikely to be any sort of exposé, but should be a revealing chat with someone adept at drawing celebrities out of their shells. Her new endeavor, a web program somewhat amusingly titled @katiecouric, launches tomorrow; the first episode is a session with none other than uber-critic Glenn Beck. We shall see if Couric’s steely reserve translates to a conversation with such a belligerent guest. Ten points if they both cry.

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Though Couric can come off as more of a sorority girl than a hard-hitting news journalist, she manages to interview subjects without the condescending judgment so prevalent in other Q&As with badly behaving public figures. Take the following interview with Lil Wayne which includes bowling, tattoos, and purple drank.

Let’s not forget Couric’s denouement, a showdown with Vice Presidential nominee  Sarah Palin last fall — the first major interview to expose the  little-known Alaskan governor’s ignorance about everything from foreign policy to American media.

And lest you assume CBS Evening News will revisit its staid, traditional newscaster format, think again. In addition to the recurring investigative segment “Follow the Money,” sniffing out financial trails in the wake of the economic collapse, Couric is planning to incorporate “more upbeat” stories to the newscast because “the news can be so depressing now.”

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