On September 5, 2006, Katie Couric made her debut as the first female anchor of a nightly news program. 13.6 million viewers tuned in for the premiere of “CBS News With Katie Couric” to witness television – and women’s – history.
Couric was born on January 7, 1957 in Arlington, VA, and after graduating from the University of Virginia in 1979, she moved to Washington, D.C. to pursue a career in television news reporting. She worked her way up from desk assistant at ABC to reporter at various CNN bureaus. In 1988, she became a Pentagon reporter for NBC News.
In 1991, Couric’s dreams of making it big in TV news came true when she was hired to co-anchor the “TODAY” show alongside Bryant Gumbel. She was an instantaneous hit with viewers, landing important interviews with Anita Hill, George Bush and Jerry Seinfeld. She co-hosted the “TODAY” show into the early 2000’s – eventually alongside Matt Lauer – and became one of the highest paid news personalities. In 1998, she signed a four-year extension contract with NBC for $28 million. After fifteen years with the “TODAY” show, she landed the history-making female anchor spot in 2006. She won the Edward R. Murrow Award for best newscast in 2008 and 2009, but she left the spot in May of 2011 to become a global news anchor for Yahoo.
Despite her boundary breaking success in the news space, Couric has always been outspoken about her struggles with sexism in the media world. In a People interview in 2015, she shared, “We’ve come a long way, but we are not quite there yet. Women have made tremendous strides, but I think they need to get in more management positions. Once they do, I think there will be much greater parity when the real decision-makers – the people in charge – are more representative of the diversity of the workplace in general, both in gender, race and all sorts of other qualities.”
Despite these continued barriers, Couric successfully paved the way for the increased number of women in primetime news today.