Couric's first job in 1979 was at the ABC News bureau in Washington, D.C., later joining CNN as an assignment editor. Between 1984 and 1986, she worked as a general-assignment reporter for the then-CBS affiliate WTVJ in Miami, Florida. During the following two years, she reported for WRC-TV, the NBC owned-and-operated station in Washington, D.C., work which earned her an Associated Press award and an Emmy.
Couric joined NBC News in 1989 as Deputy Pentagon Correspondent. From 1989 to 1991, Couric was an anchor substitute. She filled in for Bryant Gumbel as host of Today, Jane Pauley, and Deborah Norville as co-anchor of Today, Garrick Utley, Mary Alice Williams, and Maria Shriver as co-host of Sunday Today, and John Palmer, Norville, and Faith Daniels as anchor of the former NBC News program NBC News at Sunrise. She also subbed for Daniels, Norville, and John Palmer as the news anchor on Today.
In 1989, Couric joined Today as national political correspondent, becoming a substitute co-host in February 1991 when Norville had a baby. Norville did not return and Couric became permanent co-anchor on April 5, 1991. In 1994, she became co-anchor of Now with Tom Brokaw and Katie Couric—an evening time weekly TV newsmagazine with Tom Brokaw—which was later canceled and folded into part of Dateline NBC, where her reports appeared regularly and she was named contributing anchor. She remained at Today and NBC News for fifteen years until May 31, 2006, when she announced that she would be going to CBS to anchor the CBS Evening News, becoming the first solo female anchor of the "big three" weekday nightly news broadcasts.
While at NBC, Katie Couric occasionally filled in for Tom Brokaw on NBC Nightly News. From 1989–1993, Couric also filled in for Maria Shriver on the Sunday Edition of NBC Nightly News and for Garrick Utley on the Saturday Edition of NBC Nightly News.
Couric hosted or worked on a number of news specials, like Everybody's Business: America's Children in 1995. Similar entertainment specials were Legend to Legend Night: A Celebrity Cavalcade in 1993, and Harry Potter: Behind the Magic in 2001. Couric has also co-hosted the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games. She has broadcast with Bob Costas, beginning with the 2000 Summer Olympics. She did not co-host the 2006 Winter Olympics opening ceremony in Turin, Italy, because of a scheduling conflict with a live broadcast of Today. Brian Williams co-hosted with Bob Costas instead.
Couric has interviewed many international political figures and celebrities, including presidents Gerald R. Ford, Jimmy Carter, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, and First Lady Barbara Bush. John F. Kennedy, Jr. gave Couric his first and last interviews. Couric has won multiple television reporting awards through her career, including the prestigious Peabody Award for her series Confronting Colon Cancer. Couric has also interviewed former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Senator Hillary Clinton (her first television interview), Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, and Laura Bush.
On May 28, 2008, Couric made a return visit to Today since leaving almost two years to the very day back on May 31, 2006. She made this appearance alongside her evening counterparts, NBC Nightly News' Brian Williams & ABC World News' Charles Gibson, to promote an organization called Stand Up to Cancer and raise cancer awareness on all three major television networks; ABC, CBS & NBC. Couric, Gibson and Williams made appearances together on all three major network morning shows, first on CBS's Early Show, then on NBC's Today and finally on ABC's Good Morning America.