Katie Couric: I did too much too soon at CBS

October 13, 2015, 3:06 AM UTC

Longtime television journalist Katie Couric admitted that she may have pushed too much for change while anchor at CBS Evening News, a job she left after five years in 2011.

“[CBS President] Les Moonves brought me into CBS to shake things up,” she said during an interview at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit on Monday evening. “I probably should have done that at a slower pace.”

CBS brought on Couric, who had previously been a star host at NBC’s Today Show, at a whopping $15 million annual salary in 2006. Her job was to reinvigorate the evening news show at a time when ratings were sliding. But despite some of new innovations Couric pushed at the network, including live streaming of the news, it still lagged behind rivals NBC and ABC in ratings. Couric left CBS (CBS) when her contract ended.

“It’s enough of a shock to see a woman on the evening news, and then to have someone who was changing formats, it was too much too soon,” she said. Furthermore, she said she should have played the game more while at CBS, and “been more political and sucked up to the right people.”

As for her current job as global news anchor at Yahoo (YHOO), Couric said she is happy with her creative freedom. In particular, Couric cited the ability to talk to her guests for as much time as she wants, and that digital news is now a powerful medium.

Couric took time to reflect on her early career in journalism, when women were few in the industry. “When I joined journalism in 1979, harass was two words instead of one,” she joked. But she said she had some lucky breaks, one of the most notable being when then the NBC News Washington D.C. bureau chief, the late Tim Russert, hired her as Pentagon reporter. That career move ended up with her eventually taking the role with the Today Show, where she remained for fifteen years.

These days, however, Couric is focused on using her journalistic chops in other ways. In addition to her role at Yahoo, she’s become a documentary film producer. In 2014, she helped produce a film on the causes of obesity in the U.S., called FedUp. Currently, she is working on a new documentary film about gun control, under the working title Under The Gun.

“A lot of broadcast networks would not tolerate this type of work,” Couric said. “Power is using your position and making a difference.”

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