In January, Diane Sawyer will become the next anchor of ABC’s World News, replacing Charles Gibson, who will be retiring.
The move, first reported by The New York Post this morning, will make Ms. Sawyer the second woman to solo anchor an evening broadcast news show.
Ms. Sawyer’s contract as one of the anchors on ABC’s Good Morning America was reportedly expiring in the next year and what she would do next has been a source of much speculation in the TV news business in recent months.
Come January, she’ll be squaring off with CBS’s Katie Couric and NBC’s Brian Williams.
Mr. Gibson announced his plan to retire at the end of the year in an email to staff.
From the email:
It has not been an easy decision to make. This has been my professional home for almost 35 years. And I love this news department, and all who work in it, to the depths of my soul.
I have received much comment, and quite a few emails and letters referring to the signoff Eddie Pinder convinced me to use – wishing that everyone has had a good day. But the proudest part for me has been saying “…for all of us at ABC News…”, since those words signify in my mind that I have been in a position to speak for an entire news department that I consider second to none.
David Westin, the president of ABC News, followed up with a second email to ABC staffers:
Diane Sawyer is the right person to succeed Charlie and build on what he has accomplished. She has an outstanding and varied career in television journalism, beginning with her role as a State Department correspondent and continuing at 60 Minutes, Primetime Live, and Good Morning America.
UPDATE: More reaction from TV news veterans.
Here’s a statment from CBS’ Katie Couric:
Ever since my days as a desk assistant at ABC News, I’ve always admired Charlie’s work. He’s a talented reporter, a gifted communicator, and a wonderful person. I wish him all the best.
Diane is one of the hardest-working people I know and this new assignment is the latest achievement in an already accomplished and illustrious career. And as I did, I’m sure she’ll quickly find that she doesn’t miss that early morning alarm clock.
And from NBC’s Brian Williams:
I would love to say that ABC’s loss is NBC’s gain, but then they went and appointed Diane Sawyer to replace Charlie Gibson. That doesn’t lessen the competition one bit.
Charlie is a pro, and he’s been the most able competition anyone could ask for. Diane is no different–a legendary name in our business for decades–and now we’ll have to work every bit as hard every day to put on the best newscast possible. This is more evidence that the competition has never been more robust among the three network evening newscasts, and it keeps us all sharp, aggressive and on our toes. Congratulations to Charlie, congratulations to Diane, and Katie and I will continue to work hard every day.
On Wednesday afternoon, we caught up with Victor Neufeld, the veteran TV news producer who worked with Ms. Sawyer for many years at ABC, where among other jobs he had a stint overseeing ABC’s newsmagazines.
Here’s what Mr. Neufeld had to say:
I believe this has the potential to be a real game-changer for ABC. She is terrific. She is one of the true network news superstars. She has the perfect balance of authority and charisma. She has amazing style and at the same time is one of the hardest working persons I’ve ever worked with.
If you go by the ABC building any time of day or night–as I do, because I live in the neighborhood–if you look up, there are many windows there, and the lights are always on in her office. That’s Diane. She’s always working.
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