Did You Hear? Anchor Changes Are Coming to ABC News

By Chris Ariens 

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Diane Sawyer, Charlie Gibson and Barbara Walters at the memorial service for Walter Cronkite in September. Photo: Kevin Allocca

Next Friday, Dec. 18, Charlie Gibson signs off as anchor of ABC’s “World News.” The following Monday, Christmas week, the broadcast will carry they name of Diane Sawyer. If you read this blog, you already know that. But the transition from Gibson-Sawyer is about as low-key as these rare transitions get.

The AP’s David Bauder writes about the relative quietness of the changes, and talks to an unnamed ABC executive who says, “The idea is that Charlie and Diane want the focus to stay on the news and not on them and their transition. Diane is an extremely well-known journalist who does not need to be introduced to other people.” Bauder writes:

The obvious contrast is late summer 2006, when CBS trumpeted the arrival of Katie Couric at the “CBS Evening News.” And the Couric hype is exactly what’s kept Sawyer under the radar. ABC officials believe the attention paid to Couric’s move from the “Today” show backfired, leaving CBS a distant last in the evening news ratings. Instead of a big splash, ABC hopes for a steady swim.

Bauder examines the many differences between 2006 and 2009. He also talked with Couric’s first EP at Evening News, Rome Hartman who now heads up BBC World News America.

“We could have launched [the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric] in an underground bunker in Siberia, and it still would have been as hot a spotlight,” he said. “We knew there was a danger that our beginning would be treated as our end,” Hartman said. “Frankly, it was, and it was unfair.”

• We’ve still got our poll open: If George Takes the GMA Job, Who Should Host “This Week?”. We’ll keep it open until Monday night at Midnight PT and bring you the results Tuesday.