Katie Couric is friendly, accessible, smart, articulate, professional, and concerned. And so are the Coloradans who showed up at her town her meeting. While the audience was heavily white, female and middle-aged, it was a good sampling of typical citizen's of the Mile High state.
Beside me (a blogger and charter school president), there was a middle school counselor, a police officer, a rancher, several folks in the agricultural and health care fields, journalism students, writers, stay-at-home moms, fire chiefs (one active, one retired), a realtor, a lawyer, an artist, a professor, a female Presbyterian minister, and many parents and grandparents. There was a handful of minorities including a few African-Americans, at least one Hispanic man, and a lesbian government worker and mother of two. Also, there was a really smart and insightful 18-year-old named Michelle.
Unlike what I gathered what was going on in Minneapolis per Leab at Ironic Teachings, the audience didn't know each other and weren't dressed in suits. In fact, dress ranged from sports coats and office casual to ranch wear and jeans and t-shirts.
So what do Coloradans want? The BBC News, NPR and CBS Sunday Morning! We want more depth, less sensationalism, less violence and gore, and a world view of the news. We want real people interviewed with several sides of the story being shown. We're tired of politicians. Several people expressed a need for civil discourse of the issues and solution oriented news.
Coloradans want news that enpowers people. We want to hear about the good things going on in our society to balance all the murder, violence and disasters shown. We're tired of hearing the politicians give their views, and want to see how real people are affected by issues of the day such as immigration and same-sex marriage. We're tired of news that polarizes our nation. We want to see the good think our soldiers are doing in Iraq - instead the news focuses on the bad stuff.
We want Katie to do live broadcasts from small towns and cities (an idea that seemed to intrigue her executive producer, Rome Hartman). People want to download the news on their computers, and to pick and choose which stories they'd like to see more information from. They want to use the technology out there, whether it's the Internet, TiVo or podcasts.
The only thing I found contradictory was the idea that the news needs to be filtered because young children might see it versus the desire for more depth in reporting. It was obvious to many in the room that little kids should not be watching the news. We all agreed that it is scary and brings up a lot of things parents aren't prepared to deal with (death, rape, disasters, abductions, war, etc.). Obviously, little kids aren't mature enough to handle these issues (teenagers are another story). The solution? If you don't want your child to see scary things, turn the TV off! That's what TiVo is for, folks.
Will people generate towards quality, in-depth, intelligent news? And can CBS earn ratings and make money off it? We'll know in September when Katie hits the airwaves.