A Star is Reborn

If they’re right, Ms. Couric will have to expand her media power base within CBS News.

Outside the window, on Amsterdam, a crew of teenagers walked by, caught site of Ms. Couric and flailed for her attention.

“Look, young people,” said Ms. Couric. “See! They actually watch. So our demos are lowering, too!”

Until recently, she had felt anxious about translating herself onto the Web. As a result, earlier this year, Ms. Couric set up a breakfast at Sarabeth’s restaurant with former Today producer turned YouTube executive Jordan Hoffner. And so was born Ms. Couric’s YouTube channel, where she now regularly uploads behind-the-scenes footage of her life on the campaign trail.

Some of it is inane, said Ms. Couric. But she liked the flexibility and spontaneity of the Web. At the Democratic National Convention, she ran into Michael Dukakis going through security. Ms. Couric pounced. “When you’re here in Denver, and you see all this hoopla, do you ever wonder, gee, what if?”

“Look, I owe the American people an apology,” said Mr. Dukakis. “If I’d beaten the old man, you’d have never heard of the kid, and we wouldn’t be in this mess.”

Behind the scenes, Ms. Couric was also pushing for more acreage on big campaign nights. “We have very little real estate,” said Ms. Couric. “On 60 Minutes the political coverage is pretty much dominated by the people who have done the campaigns throughout. So that doesn’t leave a lot of space for me or for people like Jeff Greenfield, who is so interesting, or Bob [Schieffer], who has covered so many of these.”

On the first night of the Democratic National Convention, Ms. Couric and her colleagues added an hour-long Webcast to their coverage. From the get-go, the Webcasts were a breezy hit, with Ms. Couric having fun, rolling with the carnival atmosphere on the convention floor, interviewing Caroline Kennedy one moment, Cyndi Lauper the next. Even if the audience was small, Ms. Couric was happy to have another free-wheeling platform to play on. “It’s much less buttoned up,” said Ms. Couric. “It feels to me more like the Today show environment, where you can kind of shuck and jive a little bit.”

“But you don’t have to dress up for Halloween,” she added.

No, that indignity is finally behind her. Ms. Couric finished her cup of coffee. It was time to head back to the office and get cranking.

So, what about at home? A costume perhaps?

“I’m having an election-night rehearsal,” she said. “I’ll be dressing as Katie Couric, anchorwoman.”

fgillette@observer.com