Katie Couric makes much awaited debut in the anchor seat at `CBS Evening News'

Tuesday, September 5th 2006, 2:21 pm
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) _ Katie Couric concedes that all the attention paid to her debut Tuesday as ``CBS Evening News'' anchor is unnerving.

``It's a job, when push comes to shove,'' Couric said in an interview broadcast Tuesday with her former morning-show competitor, Harry Smith. ``All the hype and attention, while on the one hand it's flattering, is kind of unnerving.''

If she needs help keeping things in perspective, the 49-year-old newswoman can get that at home from her two daughters. ``Truth be told, they don't spend a lot of time watching the news, she said in the interview on CBS' ``The Early Show.''

CBS has been waiting and planning for this day since Couric announced last spring she was concluding her 15-year tenure on NBC's ``Today'' show _ longer than that when the time spent courting her is taken into account. Brian Williams of the top-rated NBC ``Nightly News'' and Charles Gibson on ABC's ``World News'' are her new rivals.

While Tuesday offered the first evidence of how CBS has remodeled its evening newscast for Couric, she told Smith that viewers should be aware it's still a work in progress. Being third in the ratings can liberate you to try new things, she said.

She's the first woman hired to anchor one of the three network nightly newscasts on her own. Predecessors Barbara Walters, Connie Chung and Elizabeth Vargas only got their jobs in partnership with men.

That milestone moved Rochelle Riley, columnist at the Detroit Free Press, to urge women across the country to watch Couric.

``You don't have to be a fan,'' Riley wrote. ``You don't even have to like the news. But progress requires it.''

Couric also made her initial posting Tuesday on her new Web log, ``Couric & Co.,'' run by CBS News. She promised to swap stories, offer opinions and ask questions of viewers. ``In the little village that is CBS News, you might consider `Couric & Co.' the coffee house on the corner, where something is always brewing,'' she wrote.

When she was considering leaving the familiar environs of NBC, Couric wrote that a friend told her: ``A boat is always safe in the harbor. But it's not what it was built for.''

``Hopefully,'' she wrote, ``we won't all end up like Gilligan.''