NEW YORK — Katie Couric signed off as "CBS Evening News" anchor for the last time on Thursday, thanking viewers for "coming along with me on this incredible journey."
The first woman chosen to solely anchor a network evening newscast left on a high note, interviewing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and leading the broadcast with an exclusive "60 Minutes" investigation on new doping accusations against cyclist Lance Armstrong.
Her next destination is likely to be ABC, where she has talked with executives about doing a daytime talk show and some work at the news division. But she has made no announcement about her future plans.
After several years at No. 3 in the evening ratings behind NBC and ABC, the Tiffany network had high hopes in 2006 when it convinced Couric to leave NBC's "Today" show and take over the anchor role. There was an initial burst of interest, but viewers rejected efforts at changing a news format that has lasted decades, and the broadcast slid back to third.
Couric's newscast won awards, and she drew attention with newsmaker interviews like a 2008 conversation with Sarah Palin, but it could never escape the cellar. The format also proved restrictive to Couric, who told former "Today" colleague Matt Lauer in an interview last month that "it might be nice to have a little more wiggle room for me to show a little more personality."
For her final newscast, she presented "five years in five minutes," with images flashing by of major stories she had covered and people she had interviewed — Presidents Bush and Obama, hero pilot Chesley Sullenberger, actor Clint Eastwood and baseball steroids user Alex Rodriguez and Palin.
"It's been an extraordinary privilege to sit in this chair and a real honor to work with so many talented people at CBS News," Couric said.
Scott Pelley will replace her as the regular anchor, starting June 6th.
While last night's broadcast offered a look back at Couric's tenure, it also gave a look ahead to some changes CBS News management has been seeking. New CBS News Chairman Jeff Fager, executive producer of "60 Minutes," has talked about better showcasing the news division's work, and Couric's last newscast led by previewing a report on Armstrong that Pelley will air on Sunday.
Couric noted that the broadcast's second story, about a paralyzed man who stood after his spinal cord was stimulated by an electric battery, will be talked about in more depth on "The Early Show" on Friday.