In November 2013, Yahoo hired high-profile TV news anchor Katie Couric to be its “global anchor,” a nebulous position that company CEO Marissa Mayer said would involve “being the face of Yahoo News and shooting features for our homepage.” Couric was compensated handsomely for the deal, receiving $6 million per year, until last summer when that number reportedly swelled to $10 million. The deal was part of a greater effort to rebrand Yahoo and turn the company around after years of fucking up.
Yahoo also owns Tumblr, a blogging platform acquired for $1.1 billion roughly six months before Couric joined the company. Yahoo sees Tumblr as an important asset to the company’s future: Mayer called the purchase a “game changer,” according to a CNN report. She might have been right. Tumblr gets a lot of eyeballs, many of which are young and hip—an attractive quality for the struggling, fusty thirst-monger that is Yahoo in recent years.
You might assume, then, that Yahoo’s highest profile news personality and its prized social platform would be a match made in heaven, or at the very least not a complete disaster. You’d be wrong.
Katie Couric’s Tumblr page is one of the saddest goddamn places on the Internet, a distinction made all the more remarkable when you consider that it’s competing with Jeb!’s campaign eulogy and this place. It’s full of half-hearted reblogs and sappy inspirational slogans, but it’s removed of any personality or audience. What’s left is a carcass of a social media presence that not even $10 million a year can salvage. Let us strap on our safari hats and take a guided tour through the tatters of Couric’s feeble Tumblr efforts:
Jumping into Couric’s more contemporary efforts—her Tumblr has been around since March 2014—we find this post, which highlights some “Wednesday Wisdom” from noted New York Times bloviator and Hamilton Nolan favorite Thomas Friedman. Besides the objective terribleness of trumpeting life advice from Thomas Friedman, the entry is notable because it was cross-posted to Couric’s Instagram account, where it logged over 600 likes and a handful of comments, including one from Couric herself.
On Tumblr, however, it only received six notes, suggesting that almost two years on, Couric is still far from mastering the platform. (Pro-tip: Don’t post about Thomas Friedman.) It was, at least, on brand: she included the same quote in her book.
You know damn well I don’t have a plan for a #HealthyHalloween, Couric, and neither do the 14-year-olds who frequent Tumblr. Isn’t the entire purpose of Halloween to spend the day gorging on Kit-Kats and Crunch bars? Five notes. Damn right.
It may seem strange that the 59-year-old news anchor posted a birthday photo with 34-year-old actor Eddie Redmayne and then hashtagged it “prompose,” but that’s no matter: Tweens love Redmayne! And proms! (Oh, wait. Only seven notes? Never mind.)
Did you know that Mike Huckabee is a “gifted rap artist” (in addition to a virulent racist and the father of an alleged dog killer)? I sure didn’t, but I do now thanks to this reblog of an important People magazine exposé.
Scattered throughout Couric’s Tumblr blog are numerous posts featuring stories from the website Mashable, which describes its audience as something called “the connected generation,” a vague term used to describe people with the Internet, I guess. Considering Couric works for Yahoo News—a competitor to Mashable— this seems like an odd choice, but maybe she just really likes seeing grown men dressed as babies.
“Our ‘squad’ (lol) leaving Houston!” Couric wrote on a photo caption of her and three #besties. Tumblr users interacted with this post a total number of four times, one of which was a comment that said “someone stop katie couric.” We couldn’t agree more.
Couric’s Tumblr blog might be feeble, but its content isn’t much different from what you’d find on her Instagram or Twitter feeds. Those accounts, however, have legions of followers: She has nearly a million and a half on Twitter, 150,000 on Instagram, and over 570,000 on Facebook. Even though Tumblr doesn’t provide a precise follower count, it’s safe to say the tweens aren’t loving Couric’s page given the handful of interactions on any given post. It’s worth noting that some of Couric’s earlier posts have thousands of interactions, but most of her recent attempts do not.
This would all be fine, since most celebrities, for all of their popularity and appeal, aren’t that great at social media. But Couric is different because she’s paid millions of dollars by Yahoo to be an ambassador for Yahoo. The amount of money Couric commands is staggering—and for what? So she can post video clips and interviews on Tumblr for no one to see?
Couric, of course, declined to comment on her failed Tumblr blog, but a source familiar with the situation pointed to Couric’s success on other social platforms—as well as the success of her Yahoo content. The person openly called into question Yahoo’s marketing and promotional support for Couric’s Tumblr exploits.
Regardless, Couric has every reason—nay, obligation—to make her page look good. But she hasn’t, and it shows. One of one of Yahoo’s highest paid employees is awful at using one of its most important services, and it’s indicative of the bigger problems plaguing the aging tech giant.
In fact, Couric’s Tumblr page is an embodiment of all the misfires at Yahoo right now: excessive spending, a lack of proper identity, and the inability to understand what its users and customers actually want. Its recent blunders have been well-documented, and there doesn’t appear to be an end in sight. (Except for all those employees who got laid off, among whom the $10-million-a-year Couric is nowhere to be found.)
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