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Katie Couric better known than news rivals

Participants in recent survey more aware of Couric than Gibson or Wiliams
/ Source: The Associated Press

Good news for Katie Couric: Lots of people know her and like her.

In fact, Couric, who takes the “CBS Evening News” anchor chair Sept. 5, is better known than her soon-to-be rivals, according to a poll released Thursday by Pew Research Center for the People and the Press.

When asked to give their general impressions of each network news anchor in a single word, 66 percent of respondents were able to express an opinion of Couric. This compares with 49 percent for Charles Gibson, who recently took over ABC’s “World News” (after many years at that network’s “Good Morning America”), and 47 percent for Brian Williams of “NBC Nightly News,” the survey found.

(MSNBC is a joint venture between NBC and Microsoft).

Women, who are more likely than men to have watched Couric during her 15 years hosting NBC’s “Today” show, expressed a one-word impression of her more often than men, and 47 percent of these female respondents offered words that had a favorable tone, compared with 31 percent of the men.

Gibson and Williams reflected no such gender gap, the survey found.

While 40 percent of all respondents’ one-word impressions of Couric had a positive tone (compared with 36 percent for Gibson and 34 percent for Williams), she also scored higher in words deemed negative (including liberal, biased, bad, annoying and overrated), with 14 percent. This compared with 4 percent for Gibson and 5 percent for Williams.

While the word most often associated with all three journalists was good, the list of adjectives for Couric included perky, cute, nice, energetic, bubbly and fluffy — words no one raised for Gibson or Williams.

Other words Couric inspired were informed, knowledgeable and smart. But her personality and style were foremost on the minds of the respondents, as opposed to their words describing Gibson and Williams.

The survey was based on telephone interviews among a nationwide sample of 1,506 adults 18 and older, conducted Aug. 9-13. Sampling error was plus or minus 4 percentage points.