ABC's Gibson: International Coverage Crucial


In the wake of the exploding conflict in the Middle East, ABC World News With Charles Gibson anchor  Gibson took the opportunity to stump for maintaining or bolstering budgets for international coverage.

"What’s really important is that we do maintain people around the world and coverage around the world and bureaus around the world," he said. "To all the ABC executives in the room, it’s really important."

Gibson, along with executive producer Jon Banner, spoke to reporters Wednesday morning live via satellite from Cyprus, the destination for many civilian evacuations from the conflict in Lebanon.

But Banner stressed that not having bureaus everywhere (such as Cyprus) actually freed up money for coverage, as communication and transportation innovations have lessened the need for bureaus in certain areas.

"I don’t think the amount of money we spend here, which quite honestly compared to keeping a bureau is very small, takes away from the resources of covering a story. If anything it adds resources to covering a story," he said of Cyprus.

Gibson said that the current situation in the Middle East is a perfect example of the necessity of an anchor to travel.

"The players change very fast," he said. "Unfortunately, the situation with Ariel Sharon has brought in a whole new generation of politicians in Israel, and I don’t know them. So to come over here calls attention to the story … and also is a tremendous learning experience for me."

But Gibson was quick to point out that his presence should not detract from the reporters who regularly cover the region.

"I’m very mindful that the people who regularly cover the beat know it best, and I don’t want to do anything in terms of anchor travel to preempt the prerogative of the people that know it best."

Banner also said that in the wake of injuries to journalists including ABC’s Bob Woodruff, safety continues to be a major factor in deciding from where to report.

"Bob’s injuries are on our minds constantly," Banner says. "We take as many precautions as we can and it is our responsibility to not do anything foolish, but we have a job to do and it at times involves risk. Our senior management is involved in a lot of decisions.

"Prudence is the word you keep in your mind," Gibson added.

When questioned about his political beliefs, Gibson said his perceived lack of bias was a source of pride.

"I take it as a badge of honor if you don’t know which way I lean," he said. "I try not to lean either way."

Banner also pointed to the attention being paid to the race between Gibson, CBS’ Katie Couric and NBC’s Brian Williams that will begin this fall as proof that the genre is still very relevant.

"The renewed focus makes all those questions about the vitality of the evening news disappear," he said.