ABC's World News Tonight: Wikis


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ABC World News
ABC World News - Diane Sawyer.jpg
The title card for ABC World News with Diane Sawyer, as of December 21, 2009.
Also known as World News with Diane Sawyer
(weekday broadcasts since December 21, 2009)
ABC World News
(weekend broadcasts)
World News Tonight with Peter Jennings
ABC Evening News
World News with Charles Gibson
Format News
Created by Roone Arledge
Presented by Bob Young (1967-1968)
Howard K. Smith (1969-1976)
Harry Reasoner (1970-1978)
Barbara Walters (1976-1978)
Frank Reynolds (1968-1970, 1978-1983)
Max Robinson (1978-1983)
Peter Jennings (1965–1967; 1978–2005)
Bob Woodruff (2006)
Elizabeth Vargas (2006)
Charles Gibson (2006-2009)
Diane Sawyer (2009-present)
Jon Berman (2010-present) (Saturdays)
Dan Harris (2006-present) (Sundays)
Country of origin United States
No. of episodes 15,722 (as of January 17, 2008)
Executive producer(s) Jon Banner
Running time 30 minutes
Original channel ABC
Picture format 480i (SDTV),
720p (HDTV) [1]
Original airing as
John Charles Daly and the News
World News format
(July 10, 1978-Present)
External links
Official website

ABC World News with Diane Sawyer (and also ABC World News on weekend editions) is the flagship ABC News program of the American Broadcasting Company television network in the United States.

The weekday editions are anchored by Diane Sawyer (since December 21, 2009), Saturdays by Jon Berman (since 2010), and Sundays by Dan Harris (since 2006).


Early years — 1953–1983

ABC first began a nightly newscast in fall 1953 with John Charles Daly as anchor of the then-fifteen-minute John Charles Daly and the News. Daly, who also hosted the CBS game show What's My Line? contemporaneously, anchored the news until 1960 with multiple hosts and formats succeeding him. Anchors during the early 1960s included Alex Dreier, John Secondari, Fendall Winston Yerxa, Al Mann, Bill Shadel, John Cameron Swayze (formerly of NBC), Bill Laurence, and Bill Sheehan. In 1962, Ron Cochran was made full-time anchor, serving until 1964. Then, in 1965, a twenty-six-year-old Canadian, Peter Jennings, was named anchor of Peter Jennings with the News.

In 1967, the inexperienced Jennings left the anchor chair and was reassigned as an international correspondent for the news program. ABC News was hosted, in succession, by Bob Young (October 1967 to May 1968), Frank Reynolds (May 1968 to May 1969), and, eventually, Reynolds and Howard K. Smith (May 1969 to December 1970). The program did not expand from fifteen to thirty minutes until 1967, some years after CBS and NBC had expanded their evening news programs.


Reasoner, Smith, and Walters

Harry Reasoner, formerly of CBS News and 60 Minutes, joined ABC News in 1970 to co-anchor ABC Evening News with Smith, beginning that December, replacing Reynolds. In 1976, Smith was moved to commentator, and Reasoner briefly assumed sole-anchor responsibilities until his pairing in 1976 with Barbara Walters, the first female network anchor. Ratings for the nightly news broadcast declined shortly thereafter, possibly due in part to the lack of chemistry between Reasoner and Walters. Reasoner would eventually return to CBS and 60 Minutes, while Walters became a regular on the newsmagazine 20/20.

"First News" strategy — 1960s–1982

Because the ABC network had nowhere near the number of affiliates as the other two major networks and, thus, especially in smaller markets, was sometimes carried by a station primarily affiliated with another network, ABC News chose to feed its evening newscast to its affiliates at 6 p.m. Eastern Time/5 p.m. Central Time, one half-hour ahead of CBS and NBC. Even in areas with three full-time affiliates, ABC stations often opted to broadcast the news in the 6 p.m./5 p.m. timeslot to entice viewers by presenting the day's national and international news first, thus making it more likely that they would stay tuned to the station's local newscast immediately following (or one half-hour afterward), instead of turning to CBS or NBC. In some markets, especially in the Eastern Time Zone, it was not unusual for the ABC affiliate to air its local newscast at 5:30 p.m., followed by the network news at 6 p.m., then syndicated situation-comedy reruns or game shows from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. (or 8 p.m., after the Prime Time Access Rule went into effect in 1971).

As the youngest and least-viewed of the networks, ABC News employed the strategy to get a foothold on the American public's consciousness, although stations were quite free to tape-delay the feed in order to run it against the other two networks, or, in some larger markets especially, at 7 p.m./6 p.m. Eventually, though, by 1982, when all markets obtained full-time ABC affiliates and the evening newscast began winning the ratings, the network discontinued the practice and started feeding the news to stations at the conventional time of 6:30 p.m. (Eastern/Pacific)/5:30 p.m. (Central/Mountain) on weeknights. However, the weekend editions still air live at 6 p.m./5 p.m.

World News Tonight — The early years 1978–1983

Always the perennial third in the national ratings, ABC News president Roone Arledge reformatted the program, relaunching it as World News Tonight on July 10, 1978. Reynolds, demoted when the network hired Reasoner, returned as lead anchor, reporting from Washington, D.C.. Max Robinson, the first African American network news anchor, anchored national news from Chicago, Illinois, and, also returning for a second stint, Jennings reported international headlines from London, United Kingdom. Occasional contributions included special reports by Walters, who was credited as anchor of the special coverage desk from New York City and worldwide, and commentary by Smith, who was easing into eventual retirement. The program’s distinct and easily identifiable theme was written by Bob Israel. Ratings slowly climbed to the point where World News Tonight eventually beat both NBC Nightly News and the CBS Evening News, marking the first time ever that ABC had the most-popular network evening newscast.

Also during this time, World News Tonight aired an open-captioned version on various public television stations throughout the U.S., produced by Boston, Massachusetts, station WGBH-TV. In place of commercials, WGBH inserted additional news stories, some of which were of special interest to deaf people, as well as late-news developments, weather forecasts, and sports scores. This version aired mostly in late-night hours, several hours after the original newscast.

World News Tonight with Peter Jennings — 1983–2005

In April 1983, Reynolds became ill, leaving both Jennings and Robinson to co-anchor the broadcast until he planned to return; he never did and died from bone cancer on July 20, 1983. A rotation of anchors hosted the program until August 9, 1983, when Jennings became the sole anchor and senior editor of World News Tonight. The program began emanating from New York City on a regular basis in September 1983, at which time Bill Owen replaced Bill Rice as announcer for a year.

In September 1984, the program was renamed World News Tonight with Peter Jennings in order to reflect its sole anchor and senior editor. Robinson left ABC News in 1984, after stints of hosting news briefs and anchoring weekend editions of World News Tonight; he died from complications of AIDS in 1988.

With Jennings as lead anchor, World News Tonight was the most-watched national newscast from February 27, 1989, to November 1, 1996, but from then until February 2007, it was in second place behind its main rival, NBC Nightly News.

On April 5, 2005, Jennings announced that he had been diagnosed with lung cancer and, as before, other ABC News anchors, mostly consisting of 20/20 co-anchor Elizabeth Vargas and Good Morning America co-anchor Gibson, filled in for him. Jennings died of lung cancer on August 7, 2005, at his apartment in New York City, at age 67.

The August 8, 2005, edition of the program was dedicated to Jennings's memory and four-decade career in news. His death ended the era of the so-called Big Three anchors: Jennings, NBC's Tom Brokaw, and CBS's Dan Rather. During his career, Jennings had reported from every major world capital and war zone, and from all fifty U.S. states, according to the network. Jennings was known for his ability to calmly portray events as they were happening and for his coverage of many major world events.

See also: Peter Jennings: Leaving the chair

World News Tonight with Elizabeth Vargas and Bob Woodruff — January 2006 – May 2006

Elizabeth Vargas and Bob Woodruff, co-anchors of World News Tonight (2006).

On December 5, 2005, ABC News announced that Vargas and Bob Woodruff would be the new permanent co-anchors starting January 3, 2006, replacing Jennings. People in the news industry looked at the choice of Vargas and Woodruff by ABC News as the start of a new era in network television news.

The broadcast was produced live three times per day — the regular Eastern/Central Time Zones live broadcast, plus separate broadcasts for the Mountain and Pacific Time Zones. In addition, a live webcast, World News Now, with a newsbrief and a preview of that evening's broadcast, was added. The webcast currently airs live at 3 p.m. Eastern Time on ABC News Now and and can be viewed throughout the rest of the day after 4 p.m. Eastern Time.

On January 29, 2006, Woodruff and his cameraman, Doug Vogt, were injured by a road-side bomb while riding in an Iraqi military convoy. Both underwent surgery at a U.S. military hospital in Balad (fifty miles north of Baghdad, Iraq). It was reported that both men suffered head injuries, even though they were both wearing body armor and helmets. Both men were evacuated to a U.S military hospital in Germany on January 30, 2006. Woodruff and Vogt were later transferred to Bethesda Naval Hospital in the U.S. for further treatment and released for outpatient treatment.

On February 10, 2006, ABC News announced that Vargas was pregnant and due to give birth in late summer.

For about a month, Good Morning America co-hosts Gibson and Sawyer had taken turns co-anchoring the newscast with Vargas. From about March 2006 to May 2006, Vargas had been anchoring the broadcast alone, becoming the first de facto solo female evening news anchor. At the time, it was unknown what ABC News planned to do until Woodruff returned to the anchor chair, which appeared to be nowhere in the near future, and when Vargas began her maternity leave. Rumors flew that Sawyer wanted to become the sole anchor of WNT in order to beat Katie Couric's switch to the CBS anchor chair.[2] However, the New York Post's Cindy Adams reported that Gibson would become Woodruff's "temporary permanent replacement".[3]

Starting around March 2006, the West Coast editions of World News Tonight were scaled back because Vargas anchored the broadcast on her own at the time.

World News with Charles Gibson — May 29, 2006 – December 18, 2009

Charles Gibson, anchor of World News with Charles Gibson (unknown date).

On May 23, 2006, Vargas announced her resignation from World News Tonight. Gibson was then named sole anchor of the program, effective May 29, 2006, effectively replacing Vargas and her injured co-anchor Woodruff.[4] Vargas cited her doctors' recommendation to cut back her schedule considerably because of her maternity leave, and her wish to spend more time with her new baby. She has since returned to co-anchor 20/20 and ABC News specials and has substituted for Gibson on World News Tonight.

Woodruff, although still recovering from his injuries, returned to World News Tonight as a correspondent on February 28, 2007.[5]

While the 3 p.m. World News Now webcast remains, the separate Mountain and Pacific Time Zone editions have been scrapped. Gibson continues to update the newscast as warranted for these time zones, but the entire newscast is not be presented live, as was previously the case.[citation needed]

Some media analysts found the reasons for the change to be merely a cover for ABC News's real intentions to bring stability to its flagship news program that had been slipping in the ratings, and to attract some older viewers away from the CBS Evening News with interim anchor Bob Schieffer.[6] Indeed, the advertising campaign focused on Gibson's experience, calling Gibson "Your Trusted Source", similar to a campaign for Jennings, "Trust Is Earned", in the wake of the Killian documents controversy at CBS and Brian Williams's assumption of the NBC anchor chair.[7]

On July 19, 2006, ABC News announced that World News Tonight would have its name officially changed to World News With Charles Gibson.[8] The network chose to make the small name change in order to reflect the program's availability twenty-four hours a day through its webcast and through

In the February 2007 sweeps, World News with Charles Gibson achieved the number-one spot in the Nielsen ratings for nightly news broadcasts, overtaking NBC Nightly News. This was ABC News's first victory since the week Jennings died in August 2005.

Starting in April 2007, Gibson announced that Monday broadcasts of World News would be expanded editions allowing only one commercial interruption to feature extended special segments on global warming.

World News With Charles Gibson won the May 2007 sweeps period decisively over NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams, marking Gibson's second consecutive sweep win and widening his lead in the evening-news race. That was the first time World News had won consecutive sweeps since 1996, the year ABC News ceded the ratings crown to NBC News's Brokaw. NBC was back on top in the December 2007 sweeps[9] and the two programs remained in a tight race until the fall of 2008, when the NBC program established a consistent lead.[10]

When Gibson was away or on assignment, substitute anchors included Harris, Muir, Sawyer, George Stephanopoulos, and Vargas, with Sawyer being the primary substitute.[citation needed]

On September 2, 2009,[citation needed] ABC News announced that Gibson would retire from ABC News altogether on December 18, 2009, and that Sawyer would assume the anchor desk on December 21, 2009.[11] Gibson's final broadcast ended with a video tribute that included all of the living ex-U.S. Presidents, former ABC anchors, actors and actresses, singers, comedians, Mickey Mouse, Kermit the Frog, athletes, the commander of the International Space Station, competitors Couric and Williams, and, lastly, U.S. President Barack Obama.[12]

ABC World News with Diane Sawyer — since December 21, 2009

World News with Diane Sawyer advertisement (December 2009)

Sawyer began anchoring the broadcast on December 21, 2009. On the same date, the program debuted new graphics during the introductory segment, along with a new announcer, Mike Rowe, who replaced longtime announcer Bill Rice.[13]

Substitute anchors

Good Morning America co-anchor George Stephanopoulos is the primary substitute for World News with Diane Sawyer.[14] Elizabeth Vargas also substitutes and co-anchors primetime ABC News Specials alongside Sawyer and Stephanopoulos.

Weekend newscasts

WNT expanded to six nights a week with World News Sunday on January 28, 1979, and to a full seven days with the premiere of World News Saturday on January 5, 1985, years after the two other historical networks had added weekend newscasts.

These editions added the word "Tonight" in the mid-1990s, and in the mid-2000s, their respective names were shortened to simply World News Tonight to correspond with the weekday editions. However, the original names were restored on July 19, 2006, to go along with the weekday broadcast's name change, but the title card reads World News for both days.

Prior to 1979, the only network newscasts ABC stations broadcast on weekends were fifteen-minute late-night updates on Saturdays and Sundays, seen on many affiliates in tandem with the local 11 p.m. Eastern/10 p.m. Central newscasts, although some stations opted to tape-delay them until immediately before sign-off time; rival CBS also offered a fifteen-minute Sunday night bulletin during the 1970s and 1980s. Because of declining affiliate interest from low viewership (in part because of the proliferation of twenty-four-hour cable news channels such as CNN), ABC discontinued the late-night weekend reports in 1991.

Also, starting in 1973, weeknight co-anchor Reasoner hosted The Reasoner Report, a half-hour topical look at important stories (especially breaking developments in the Watergate scandal) in the vein of CBS's 60 Minutes, which Reasoner himself co-moderated at two different times. Affiliates usually carried the program on Saturday evenings in the time slots where the main newscast aired on weeknights. The program, which had affiliate clearance problems and was thus unsuccessful in terms of ratings, ended in 1975.

Some former anchors of the weekend news include Sam Donaldson (World News Sunday, 1979–1989), Kathleen Sullivan (World News Saturday, 1985–1987), Forrest Sawyer (World News Saturday, 1987–1993), Carole Simpson (World News Sunday, 1989–2003), Aaron Brown (World News Saturday, 1993–1997), Vargas (World News Saturday, 1997–2003) & (World News Sunday, 2003–2004), Terry Moran (World News Saturday, (2004–2005) and Woodruff (World News Sunday, 2004–2005).

Some ABC affiliates in the Central and Mountain Time Zones air the Sunday edition at 6 p.m. Eastern/5 p.m. Central — one half-hour earlier than the rest of the week's broadcasts — in which case, the ABC affiliate airs its local early-evening newscast after the network newscast (this is the same with CBS, which airs the Sunday edition of the CBS Evening News on all of its affiliates at 6 p.m. Eastern/5 p.m. Central). Some ABC affiliates however (ex. WFAA in Dallas-Fort Worth) do not carry the Sunday edition of World News at all. During the fall months, the Saturday broadcast is usually pre-empted by ABC's College Football coverage.

International newscasts

ABC News programming is shown for several hours a day on the twenty-four-hour news network Orbit News in Europe and the Middle East. This includes ABC World News. Also in the Middle East it is also broadcast free to air on MBC 4.

In the U.K., the program is shown at 1:30 a.m. on BBC News. BBC News is frequently simulcast by BBC Two (and, less frequently, BBC One) at this time, meaning the program is broadcast terrestrially in many parts of the U.K. The newscast airs on delay in part because of the need to remove advertisements; the BBC's domestic channels are commercial-free.

In Australia, WNT airs every morning at 10:30 a.m. AET on Sky News Australia. In New Zealand, WNT is shown at 17:10 (5:10 p.m.) and 23:35 (11:35 p.m.) every evening on TVNZ 7. In Hong Kong, it is broadcast live on TVB Pearl daily at 7:30–8:00 a.m. Hong Kong time until May 31, 2009. In Japan it airs on NHK. Belize's Great Belize Television carries all editions of World News Tonight at 7:30 p.m. CST (Mon.-Fri.), 7:00 p.m. (Saturdays) and 7:30 p.m. (Sundays).

High definition

On December 31, 2007, World News with Charles Gibson debuted a new high-definition-ready set, featuring the ABC News logo prominently carved out of wood in front with logo's colors, a rear-projection screen, and plasma screens. The show has also updated the graphics to prepare for the high-definition completion which was completed in early 2008.

ABC World News began broadcasting in high definition on August 25, 2008, during its coverage of the 2008 Democratic National Convention. NBC Nightly News and the CBS Evening News had earlier begun high-definition broadcasts.

See also


  1. ^ Dickson, Glen (2008-08-25). "Exclusive: World News Kicks Off HD Expansion at ABC — World News with Charles Gibson, Nightline to Begin Broadcasting in 720p HD Aug. 25." Broadcasting & Cable. Accessed September 24, 2009.
  2. ^ would Diane take over WNT
  3. ^ TVNewser
  4. ^ Staff writer. (May 23, 2006). "Charles Gibson Named Sole Anchor of 'World News Tonight' — Elizabeth Vargas to Step Down to Take Maternity Leave and Return to Co-Anchor '20/20' and Anchor ABC News Specials in the Fall". ABC News. Accessed September 24, 2009.
  5. ^ Staff writer (May 26, 2006). "Gibson Takes Over 'World News Tonight'". Zap2it. Accessed September 24, 2009.
  6. ^ Garofoli, Joe (May 24, 2006). "ABC News Turns to Morning Host to Take on Couric". San Francisco Chronicle. Accessed September 24, 2009.
  7. ^ Gibson: Your Trusted Source
  8. ^ Staff writer (July 19, 2006). "ABC's Flagship Newscast Changes Name to 'World News With Charles Gibson' — New Name Reflects Program's Place in the 24-Hour Digital Space". ABC News. Accessed September 24, 2009.
  9. ^ "Evening News Ratings: Williams Tops Gibson In November Sweeps", New York Times, Dec. 4, 2007.
  10. ^ "A Matrix of News Winners Buoys NBC", New York Times, March 8, 2009.
  11. ^Stelter, Brian; Carter, Bill (December 1, 2009). "ABC Plans Low-Key Handoff for ‘World News’". blog at The New York Times. Retrieved December 30, 2009. 
  12. ^ "Charles Gibson, last broadcast". Retrieved 2010-02-03. 
  13. ^ Chris Ariens (December 22, 2009). "A Much Cleaner Job for Mike Rowe: The Voice of 'World News with Diane Sawyer'". The TVNewser. Accessed December 22, 2009.
  14. ^ Allen, Mike (October 18, 2009). "George Stephanopoulos Role Grows at ABC". The Politico. Accessed December 30, 2009.


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