Confirming a B&C report in Monday's issue, ABC Monday named Bob Woodruff and Elizabeth Vargas co-anchors of ABC World News Tonight.
The two will begin their co-anchoring duties Jan. 3, when the newscast will launch a host of other changes. One is to stop simply rerunning the 6:30 p.m. ET newscast for affiliates in Pacific and Mountain time zones; the network will air a completely new program live. World News Tonight will also focus much more heavily on creating product for use online, on cellphones and other mobile devices.
ABC News President David Westin lauded Woodruff and Vargas both for their backgrounds as journalists and their work filling in for the late Peter Jennings beginning when he was first diagnosed with lung cancer last April.
Westin says that the fundamental decision of going with a two-anchor team rather than the traditional single anchor is dictated by the sharp increase in the workload from the new newscasts plus plans to frequently send anchors into the field.“It’s too much for just one person,” Westin says.
The decision cut out ABC News veterans Diane Sawyer and Charles Gibson, co-hosts of Good Morning America. Sawyer had quietly campaigned for Jennings’ slot, while Gibson openly sought it. Gibson had also frequently substituted at World News Tonight.
Westin says that Gibson has told him he loved working at GMA, would love the evening job and would be happy with any decision Westin makes. “Charlie has been wonderful in every respect,” Westin says. He added that Sawyer offered “from day one” to help in any way, but that “she regards her primary responsibility as GMA.”