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Gibson out, Sawyer in on 'World News'

Posted by Joanna Weiss  September 2, 2009 11:38 AM

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Another big change in the world of network news. ABC just announced that Charles Gibson will step down from his post as anchor of "World News" at the end of the year, and retire from ABC. Diane Sawyer will take his place, becoming the second woman - after CBS's Katie Couric - to anchor a network newscast on her own. (Suddenly, NBC's Brian Williams, who has been leading in the ratings, is the odd man out.)

Gibson first took the job in May 2006, replacing the co-anchor team of Bob Woodruff and Elizabeth Vargas. (At the time, Vargas was pregnant and Woodruff had been seriously injured while reporting in Iraq.) He had previously been co-anchoring "Good Morning America" with Sawyer. In an email to ABC staff announcing his departure, Gibson wrote: "The program is now operating at a very accelerated, but steady, cruising speed, and I think it is an opportune time for a transition -- both for the broadcast and for me. Life is dynamic; it is not static."

Sawyer, currently the co-anchor of "Good Morning America," will assume her new role in January. Her ascendancy will test the longstanding theories about the role gender has played in Couric's ratings struggles and perceived lack of gravitas. After all, Sawyer currently holds the same entertainment-news hybrid job Couric held for so long at NBC's "Today" before she took over the "CBS Evening News." Still, their on-air personas have always been different. Couric thrived, then suffered, from the perception that she was chatty and casual. Sawyer has always had a more distant air that could be viewed as either regal or cold, depending on your perspective, but that certainly fits the more traditional -- and male -- persona of the network anchor.

Sawyer also has a long history in the news division. She served in the Nixon White House before joining CBS as a State Department correspondent in the mid-1970s, and went on to become the first female correspondent for "60 Minutes." She joined ABC in 1989 as co-anchor of "Primetime Live," and has hosted news magazine shows, helmed breaking news events, and interviewed presidents.

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42 comments so far...
  1. ABC should do what Fox did. Get women half of Diane Sawyer's age. Its not like you need to be a journalist to be an anchor. They just read a teleprompter.

    Posted by RS September 2, 09 11:00 AM
  1. If this happens then Good Morning America better make some changes in line up because Robin cannot carry it alone! She just doesn't have the personality and the Today Show will win the popularity competition.

    Posted by Ron September 2, 09 11:07 AM
  1. will diane still continue on good morning america! I hope so I love her!!!

    Posted by Bonnie Picciano September 2, 09 11:07 AM
  1. Oh God no, not Diane Sawyer. She is just terrible. Use anyone but her. Looks like I will be changing networks when she steps in.

    Posted by MAC63 September 2, 09 11:08 AM
  1. I will miss Diane every morning. She and Robin , Sam and Chris have joined me in starting my day for years, and I will miss them as a team. That being said, Diane will step up to the plate and do a bang up job on ABC World News. Congratulations!!

    Posted by karend September 2, 09 11:09 AM
  1. Congrats to Diane! Kudos. You broke the glass ceiling. Thank you

    Posted by Jazz September 2, 09 11:10 AM
  1. Any word on whether the broadcasts will utilize that awful blurry-camera look that ABC always uses in Sawyer broadcasts (even when she fills in for Gibson on World News)?

    Posted by JD September 2, 09 11:12 AM
  1. Not sure this is going to work. Charlie has a great presence. Diane is a great reporter, but not sure she has the presence that a single-anchor evening news program demands.

    Posted by JMc September 2, 09 11:14 AM
  1. No offense, but she's over the hill.

    Posted by Mansfield Dude September 2, 09 11:20 AM
  1. People still get their news from networks owned by consumer goods companies? How sad.

    Branch out, people. You're missing the real news.

    Posted by Schlippo September 2, 09 11:23 AM
  1. So sorry to hear Charlie Gibson is retiring. He has a steadiness about him that other ABC anchors do not. But Charlie Gibson also has the perfect twinkle in his eye when reporting on a fun or heart-warming story towards the end of each broadcast.

    Diane Sawyer is a good steady reporter, but is better suited to GMA than the evening news. Having said *that*, however, she's light years ahead of Katie Couric. Virtually anyone is.

    Charlie Gibson will be sorely missed on the ABC evening news.

    Posted by Linda September 2, 09 11:25 AM
  1. What a joke. Dianne Sawyer is a TERRIBLE reporter. All softball questions and winks. No journalistic integrity at all.

    Posted by Mr Goodmorning September 2, 09 11:36 AM
  1. Not sorry to see Gibson go.

    Posted by globie2 September 2, 09 11:40 AM
  1. Diane is great. I loved Charlie, but if he wants to retire, ABC couldn't have picked a better replacement.

    Posted by alice williams September 2, 09 11:41 AM
  1. Bad move ABC...the last thing I want to see is an old, haggard-looking woman lecturing me. I already get that from my wife!

    Posted by Keith September 2, 09 11:50 AM
  1. I think Dan Harris would have been a better choice as Gibson's replacement. Diane is more suitable for her current morning show, GMA.

    Posted by Ellen September 2, 09 11:51 AM
  1. Check out the morning after the inaugural video of Diane. Slurring her words and grinning like a fool. It's on youtube

    Posted by airedale September 2, 09 11:51 AM
  1. I think it hurts all evening news shows. Charlie Gibson was ideal. When you look at the 3 choices...Brian Williams comes across as a piece of plastic, Katie Couric is Katie Couric...sorry, I think that says it all, and Diane Sawyer may appeal more to the age demographics of nightly news, but still not that self-assured leader type personality that most of us grew up on. With Ted Kennedy's funeral and all the coverage that every channel had...there was no definitive place for me to turn. I am 50 ish...I miss the days of Jennings and Brokaw. They were newspeople and you had to respect them no matter what. These newer talking heads are just that. And I think network news is on the way out.

    Posted by DMG324 September 2, 09 11:53 AM
  1. will miss Charlie. Diane is great. Will enjoy her. Don`t know why people think she is to old. With age comes knowledge.

    Posted by Dorothy Sibell September 2, 09 11:55 AM
  1. I didn't like Charlie Gibson. He had a smugness about him. I'm glad to see him go.

    Posted by Vince September 2, 09 11:58 AM
  1. What? No more Charlie? I will miss him tremendously.

    Posted by Marie September 2, 09 12:20 PM
  1. ABC News and Charles Gibson used to be the best. Somewhere during the primaries they became pathetic cheerleaders for Obama and liberal nonsense, and their credibility (and watchability) went right down the drain! They used to be the one you could watch for only slightly-tainted news. Now they may as well be MS-DNC...
    It's a shame. And a shame for Gibson who used to play it straight. Lately he looks as corrupt a cheerleader as the rest.

    There is a reason Fox News is killing the ratings. They are the only place left where you can learn what is REALLY going on...the others never tell you half the story, and in these days people are starting to realize they are being force-fed liberal drivel but it doesn't match the results and reality. Now people who hate Fox are nonetheless watching it because otherwise they are finding they are not informed or misinformed.

    Posted by Fred Williamson September 2, 09 12:27 PM
  1. Exellent!

    Posted by BarbaraSamburu September 2, 09 01:00 PM
  1. Congratulation to Charlie and Diane. We will miss you on GMA. Age is only a number and you both look fantastic. We are with you 100%. Charlie enjoy your retirement.

    Posted by Patricia September 2, 09 01:11 PM
  1. All the news stations ("liberal" or "conservative") spew nothing but soundbites for those that need to be spoonfed. I'll stick w/the News Hour on PBS.

    Posted by Chris Meninno September 2, 09 01:13 PM
  1. Fred Williamson, it's very simple. If you sympathize with the conservative point of view, you will find Fox News to be "truthful" and so forth. If you do not, you won't. But please don't try to portray them as somehow "balanced" or centrist. They aren't. They are simply a weight placed on the other side of the political scale.

    The only true way to get a balanced picture of things is to sample from different news outlets and to not rely on one source for anything. The problem is that in this day and age, it's fashionable to cling to extreme views and look down upon the concept of moderation.

    Posted by Andy Anonymous September 2, 09 01:21 PM
  1. JD, I'm so glad I'm not the only one who notices the blurred camera used on Diane. Does she think her appearance is in such need of enhancement by the optics? I think it makes her look silly and contributes to her image of arrogance and aloofness. (Is aloofness a word?)

    Posted by Tom September 2, 09 01:55 PM
  1. Fantastic:

    Congratulations Charlie! Way to get out before the Evening news has only two viewers. Good thing Katie is in third.

    But couldn't ABC just get blow up doll to read the prompter -the ratings wouldn't change.

    Why not do reality news with their best show Wipeout. Think of it with a million a month to spend on contestants at 50 grand a pop for the nighlly winner - without weekends the math works.

    Who wouldn't watch the newscaster reading the prompter bouncing across the big balls and landing in the water? A Complete hit. There is no serious news being reported on the networks - just fluff stories.

    ABC, I'll produce it you only owe me 10 million for the idea.

    Posted by William Tells September 2, 09 01:59 PM
  1. What is the difference? All three "world news" casts have the same scope and agenda true to their masters and manupilators. At least sawyer has some personal comments like when she wondered what men are doing with their bigger brains while sitting in for Gibson

    Posted by senpa September 2, 09 02:37 PM
  1. Does it really matter? She's just reading from a teleprompter. I haven't watched a nightly news cast for decades. I get my news elsewhere.

    Posted by Steve September 2, 09 02:54 PM
  1. Any one but Diane Sawyer, she is only three years younger than Charlie, I guess in two years we will hear about Diane stepping down... It is no wonder that broadcast news is at the bottom of the heap...

    Posted by Kim September 2, 09 02:55 PM
  1. Does Charlie Gibson have Parkinson's Disease? I have noticed some shakes and tremors - even when he was still on GMA. I hope his health is not the reason for the leave.

    Posted by Hoping for the Best September 2, 09 03:19 PM
  1. Another lightweight leftie anchor. Just what TV needs.

    Posted by Steve September 2, 09 05:03 PM
  1. I used to like Charlie and Diane until they drank the Obama KoolAid fed to all on the All Barack Channel. I watch Fox News. The networks are dead last and there is a reason for that, they don't report news they are merely a mouthpiece for the administration.

    Posted by Scottie September 2, 09 05:23 PM
  1. I enjoy watching progressive MSNBC (Go Keith! Go Rachel!), but I'm also smart enough to realize their bias and consider that in interpreting what they report. It seems that the Fox News crowd here doesn't understand that Beck, O'Reilly, and that horrible Greta Van Sustern play it up for pure ENTERTAINMENT of the far-right.

    Posted by ajr1021 September 2, 09 09:01 PM
  1. REPLY To: RS:

    You know nothing, if you believe that anchors must not be a journalist. You must not work in the News industry, because if you did, you would have not made such an ignorant comment.

    ANYONE that works at a News station, even the producers, must be a journalist to thrive and have the editorial ability to have a decent show.

    Watch a show during BREAKING NEWS, you will see what I mean. Thats when true JOURNALIST PREVAIL and show themselves. Thats when the teleprompter does them no good. Many Anchors don't even read the teleprompter word for word so that does not become a habit.

    Posted by TS September 3, 09 01:46 AM
  1. Diane is a good choice. But GMA is going to suffer. Chris Cuomo always has this awkwardness, and Robin Roberts is just okay.

    Posted by Bubbies September 3, 09 05:11 AM
  1. Will miss Charlie, while never a big favorite he was the best of the big three. Have never warmed up to Diane, have no respect for her after watching some of her interviews asking the most mindless questions that have little value. I turn to the internet to read most of my news now, looks like I'll be spending a little more time on the net.

    Posted by KL September 3, 09 11:23 AM
  1. I have never been able to tolerate Diane Sawyer. She is either doing Diane Keaton / Goldie Hawn impressions (60-year-old teenagers) or talking down to her audience in a manner that makes me leap for my remote. Why not Linda Ellerbee or Martha Tichenor, real journalists with brains and maturity?

    Posted by Meg Brookman September 3, 09 01:54 PM
  1. #33 - Leftie?! Sawyer worked for NIXON! I never, EVER thought she had liberal credentials. Yet, as a newsperson, she's not supposed to have ideological credentials, right? // I too don't like the Vaseline-on-the-lens that they seem to use with Sawyer. She should take a hint from the late, great Helen Hayes, who refused, as one of the greatest actresses in all of human history, to go under the knife, because she said she EARNED her wrinkles. // As for her behavior post-inaugural - she was probably up for DAYS with sleep in the weeks leading up to the thing. // She can indeed be fawning when dealing with celebrities (look at her with Whitney earlier this week), but you bet your bippie, she's a hard-as-nails newsperson when dealing with hard news.

    Posted by reindeergirl September 4, 09 07:02 AM
  1. I too will miss Charlie. I loved him with Joan Lunden. I guess I was the only one. He does have a twinkle in his eye, which will be missed. Not fond of Diane. Hope Charlie health is ok. He presents himself like an everyday Joe, which I find a great quality.

    Posted by Joni October 4, 09 04:46 PM
  1. Charlie, you'll be missed and remembered. You are compared with the likes of Jennings and should be proud of the way you delivered the news. You are a fine example of class and integrity and I wish you the best.

    Posted by Rich October 6, 09 08:56 PM

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