It strikes me as a significant data point that Couric’s show never made it to the levels achieved by Bob Schieffer, who took over after Dan Rather’s ouster.

Is Schieffer better than Couric? No.

Media competitors and analysts have been baffled by growing circulation and revenue at the Economist and the Financial Times, while the rest of the print industry is falling apart. Sure, those are financial publications, and the economy is of interest right now. And yes, I have problems with both of them, journalistically, for reasons I’ll get into in another post.

But think of it this way: they both offer information readers find relevant in a straightforward manner. They don’t rely on gimmicks. They’re not reinventing anything. They don’t talk down to readers. Both offer a lot of international coverage, too, come to think of it.

I believe that a straightforward approach to news reporting and presentation is the way to go. Report. Write. Do the work.

Will that make the CBS Evening News more popular and therefore profitable? Well, to put it in Moonves’s terms, you’ve got to believe in the product. The product is the news.

Dean Starkman Dean Starkman runs The Audit, CJR's business section, and is the author of The Watchdog That Didn't Bark: The Financial Crisis and the Disappearance of Investigative Journalism (Columbia University Press, January 2014).

Follow Dean on Twitter: @deanstarkman.