Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Katie Couric and the "CBS Evening News" team did some striking work during a two-day trip to Afghanistan last week, only to see some record-setting low ratings in return.
The Nielsen Co. ratings have to be discouraging to news organizations contemplating expensive assignments in a tough economy. The broadcast's executive producer, Rick Kaplan, said he made "no apologies" for travelling to the war zone because of the importance of the story.
The CBS newscast averaged 4.89 million viewers last week, the lowest for evening newscasts in the nearly 20 years in which compatible Nielsen Co. records exist and most likely the lowest for at least a couple of decades before that into the early days of television.
The broadcasts featured war zone interviews by Couric of the U.S. Afghan commander, Gen. David Petraeus. Correspondent Terry McCarthy did a story about a U.S. Marine team in charge of locating and defusing bombs, and of the three men he featured one was killed and the others were seriously wounded in an explosion.
Between the United States' growing world-weariness and the quiet summer months, CBS knew that going to Afghanistan wasn't going to be an audience-grabber, Kaplan said.
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