Yahoo has hired Katie Couric, the American TV journalist, as the internet portal’s global anchor, in the latest in a string of high-profile appointments designed to bolster the company’s media content and attract new users.
Ms Couric, who hosts her own show on ABC News and has worked for all three big TV networks in the US, will lead a growing team of correspondents at Yahoo News in what the company hopes will be a “new chapter of digital journalism”.
Marissa Mayer, Yahoo chief executive, said Ms Couric would start in early 2014, shooting features for the Yahoo homepage. Her show Katie is already streamed on the Yahoo website.
“I’ve always respected Katie for her thoughtful, charismatic approach to journalism,” she said. “From pivotal coverage of natural disasters and historic elections to the Royal Wedding and the Olympic Games, groundbreaking interviews with heads of state and leading tastemakers, her experience is unmatched.”
Ms Mayer added that it was “just the beginning” for Yahoo’s investment in content and video.
Greg Stirling, an analyst at Opus Research, said Ms Couric was not the “answer” to all of Yahoo’s challenges. “She’s part of a larger strategy to develop Yahoo into a more media-like property appealing to brands and thereby rise above much of the ‘noise’ online.”
The appointment could bring more high-profile journalists to Yahoo News, which is the top news site in the US by number of visitors, one part of the “multi-pronged approach” for Yahoo to rebuild its credibility with users and advertisers, he said.
In the past few weeks, Yahoo has hired journalists from the New York Times, including Megan Liberman, deputy editor of the newspaper, who becomes editor-in-chief, and Matt Bai, former chief political correspondent for the New York Times magazine, who will write political commentary.
The Silicon Valley-based company has also announced a “major expansion” of its consumer technology coverage including appointing David Pogue, New York Times technology columnist and a CBS news correspondent to work on columns and videos.
Ms Mayer joined the company last year, charged with transforming the fortunes of the internet portal which had fallen out of fashion. Yahoo’s digital advertising revenues are forecast to fall 3 per cent from 2012 to 2015, while the overall market grows by 12.6 per cent, according to data from research company E-Marketer.
As well as trying to lure users with new content, which includes video deals such as buying rights to the back catalogue of Saturday Night Live, she has led a redesign of many of its apps, focusing on mobile, and been on a dealmaking spree to acquire new engineers and products. Yahoo bought blogging platform Tumblr for $1.1bn earlier this year in an attempt to attract a younger audience.
Shares in Yahoo have risen 95 per cent in the past year but analysts attribute much of the increase to investor excitement about the company’s stake in Alibaba, the Chinese ecommerce company expected to list in the coming months. The company announced last month it would keep more than half of its stake in Alibaba, and another $5bn share buy-back has also buoyed the stock.
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