‘Nightline’ As We Know It Will Be Gone

We’re beginning to lose count as to how many mornings we’ve started the day this year by writing about the latest “Nightline” rumors and speculation. That said, Howard Kurtz today breaks some new ground and it’s hard to argue that it’s one of the more important articles thus far. And timely. As he says, “‘Nightline’ as we know it is about to fade to black.”

“Gone will be the single-topic examination that has been the ABC program’s signature for 25 years. Gone will be the single-anchor format once Ted Koppel steps down Nov. 22. And some of the correspondents and producers who built the program into a journalistic powerhouse will likely be gone, too.”

Kurtz reports that the new EP, James Goldston (see original reaction to his appointment here), got a “tentative green light to pursue his vision of the show” following a presentation to network news execs last week.

As rumored earlier the new anchor team will likely be Terry Moran, Cynthia McFadden and perhaps the infamous Martin Bashir. Currently in limbo? “Nightline” vets Chris “Nicest Guy Alive” Bury, John Donvan and others. Meanwhile, correspondent Dave Marash tells Kurtz he has “been disinvited” from the new show.

While the hiring and format changes are significant, there’s a much more fundamental shift taking place: Despite a major push by D.C., Goldston is deliberately pulling the show back towards New York. As Kurtz says, “The center of gravity for the Washington-based show is clearly shifting to New York, where Goldston lives and where he is seeking funding to hire more staff.”

“Nightline” has always been a major source of pride to the large ABC News bureau here on Desales Street and the potential loss of power over “Nightline” has the potential to affect the very heart and soul of the bureau.

> On a sidenote, this sentence is clearly significant too: “Several producers are likely to join a new company being formed by Koppel and outgoing executive producer Tom Bettag, who don’t plan to finalize a deal with another media outlet until they leave.”