What remains to be seen is whether viewers will trust Sawyer enough to maintain or raise "World News" ratings. After Couric succeeded Schieffer, ratings for "CBS Evening News" dropped and have yet to recover completely. Brian Williams anchors NBC's evening news show.
The ratings issue notwithstanding, Auletta said Couric got a second wind last year with a "powerful" interview of then-vice presidential candidate and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
It gave "people a sense of 'maybe I should take another look at her,'" Auletta said.
Jennifer Pozner, the executive director of Women In Media & News, said that women still have battles ahead of them in the fight for equality in TV news.
Top news executives, she said, are still, by and large, men, while "looking like a starlet is often an unwritten resume requirement for women who want to work in broadcast news."