A frustrated Katie Couric has fired back at Yahoo News despite earning a reported $10 million a year from the site, claiming her time with the company as a journalist "was not fulfilling.”
Couric joined Yahoo in 2014 in hopes of delivering renewed attention to the company.
The 61-year-old, who spoke to podcast "Recode Decode" Wednesday, said she sought to create high-quality stories instead of the “low rent” pieces Yahoo was known for, or as she compared it to as “the boy who lived on ramen noodles for 13 years.”
And while then-CEO Marissa Mayer seemed accepting of the former anchor’s aspirations, she allegedly didn’t follow through.
“I think she had a lot of things on her plate, in fairness,” said the former “Today Show” and “CBS Evening News” star. “I wouldn’t say it was an unhappy marriage, but it certainly was not fulfilling for me. I had all this great content, I was getting big interviews, and it was sort of like a tree falling in the forest. I don’t think she ever understood the commitment it would take.”
Couric said Yahoo didn’t know how to market her talent properly.
“They didn’t put it on the front page or they didn’t know how to – even now, they don’t have very good distribution,” she explained. “They didn’t really know how to market things properly. They didn’t know how to take quality and make it scalable.”
Couric insisted she attempted to pitch some ideas to help spread Yahoo’s stories to a larger audience, but the tech giant didn’t seem too willing to take them on.
“I would say to the Yahoo folks, ‘Could we please do a newsletter? I’ll push out everyone’s content,” said Couric. “They hired some big names, and yet they were in the witness protection program.”
During her time at Yahoo, Couric interviewed several notable names, including then-Vice President Joe Biden, Tom Hanks, Tony Bennett, Lin-Manuel Miranda of “Hamilton” fame, “Wonder Woman” star Gal Gadot, Bill and Melinda Gates, Bryan Cranston, Loretta Lynch, as well as former NSA contractor Edward Snowden in Moscow.
Still, Couric said major tech companies seem to value content for clicks.
“These tech companies are not media companies,” she said. “They do not care about stories, about content, about true connection. I think they care about widgets and gadgets and delivery systems, but they aren’t super-interested in the vegetable soup that’s running through the pipes. I think the secret sauce is people who are technologically savvy, but also respect and care about storytelling.”
She added, “The company that combines those two things is gonna win the day. I haven’t really found it yet.”
Ultimately, Couric was too dissatisfied to stay. In 2017, Couric left Yahoo News after four years.
Couric merged with Verizon-owned AOL to form Oath, but her arrival wasn’t smooth sailing. She told Oath CEO Tim Armstrong that the company should be called “Rize,” to promote optimism, as well as serve as a play on the word “Verizon.” However, the idea was rejected because the name was already taken.
“I think they paid a lot of money to come up with Oath,” said Couric. “Whatever.”