Yahoo is ramping up its efforts as a media portal, hiring celebrity anchors to drive forward its online news platform.
Yahoo’s appointment of early Googler Marissa Mayer as CEO has come with big changes in the company, notably its thrust toward a more engineering-oriented culture, plus a controversial ban on telecommuting work arrangements. Yahoo has, however, had an identity crisis of sorts, having jumped across being a search company, media company and consumer-oriented services company.
The company has recently hired famed New York Times technology journalist David Pogue to be part of its latest push to improve its content-centric business. Couric, meanwhile, is set to start her new assignment with Yahoo in 2014. In announcing Couric as Yahoo’s latest high-profile hire, Mayer said the news personality will be “the face of Yahoo News,” and will be “shooting features” for Yahoo’s new home page.
According to sources, Couric had actually been in discussions with Yahoo since the time of former CEO Ross Levonsohn in 2011, during which Yahoo had already been pushing itself as more of a media company than a technology-oriented firm. However, it was reportedly Mayer who pursued talks, in an effort to improve Yahoo’s clout both as a tech firm and media company, and to get bigger attention from the community.
With this move, Couric will no longer be special news correspondent for ABC News, although she will still continue her syndicated show Katie as part of the deal with Yahoo. Additionally, ABC is Yahoo’s online news partner, and content could still appear under both companies’ news programs.
Yahoo is geared at “pioneering a new chapter at digital journalism” and intends to set itself apart from other popular news portals by building and generating its own content (by contrast, for instance, Google News aggregates content from other news sources). With the popularity of streaming media and video-sharing, Yahoo wants its news content to likewise be rich in visuals and videos, and its hiring of Couric is in line with this effort.