ABC News’ Amy Robach says she’s always been “a breaking news kind of gal,” and that her experience and love for covering breaking news, combined with long form storytelling make her new role as 20/20 co-anchor such a compelling gig.
Robach, whose first broadcast as permanent 20/20 co-anchor was last Friday, is no stranger to ABC News viewers. She was named GMA news anchor in March 2014, after joining ABC News in May 2012 from NBC News where she was anchor of weekend Today.
In addition to working with David Muir and the 20/20 team, Robach will continue to report frequently across ABC News programming when major news breaks. In fact, when we chatted with Robach on Tuesday morning, she said that after our conversation, she would be heading to North Carolina to cover Hurricane Florence for ABC News.
“We had a couple shoots planned for 20/20, actually,” Robach told TVNewser. “I had two different stories I was working on, but we just said: ‘Hey, we have to put those on the back burner, and head down to the hurricane.’”
Robach had much to say about the 41-year-old news magazine, and the breaking news sensibility she’ll bring to the table. We also spoke about the avalanche of news about the news industry, specifically how #MeToo and what’s happening at outlets like CBS and NBC has shook up news, entertainment and culture.
TVNewser: What can we expect from you on the 41st season of 20/20, your first as co-anchor?
Robach: We have a very exciting year coming up. We are going to be doing a lot of crime, but I think with a very special twist in that some of these are stories are current, while others we have having been working on for months, if not years. We aren’t just putting them on arbitrarily. Rather, we want to pick the moments where there are headlines, and there’s a solid news angle to the story so that it always feels like you’re getting something current. We react to events more than just kind of create these narratives. We like to make sure this is in the news cycle, these are headlines, and that timing-wise, it makes sense we’re putting it on the air when we’re putting it on the air. To that end, we also as a show have always and will continue to really focus on breaking news as it happens. I think that’s what makes our show special and I’m proud of that.
20/20 has a new TGIF, family-friendly lead-in. Your show, as you said, is known for crime. Will TGIF programming at all impact how you program at 10 p.m., or will you stick to the formula of crime?
I think you always consider your lead-in before you figure out what you’re going to put on the air, but I think that we have always tried to make sure, first of all that we’re accurate, but also entertaining, but not in a way that would ever detract from a family gathering.
I sit down with my kids and watch a lot of these stories because I see this as an “event of the week, or “a movie of the week.” It’s a way to inform, entertain and sometimes there are cautionary tales. A lot of times, we like to have a moral to the story, and in a lot of cases, we’re discovering things that people didn’t know before. You think you have formed an opinion, you think you know what happened, and we’re able to go in there, and show people: “Hey, it’s not black and white, and this isn’t what you thought it was.” I think that’s something for everyone.
I don’t think we’re going to be changing our show, but I’m sure we’ll always consider the lead-in and what our audience is every time we make a decision about stories to cover, and how we’re covering them.
The news media has become a significant story as of late, particularly with what’s going on at CBS and NBC in regard to allegations of sexual misconduct and intimidation. Is the fact that news outlets seem to have the ability to investigate themselves and figure out the story healthy for journalism?
I think that we do our best to tell the story to the public. I think in these types of stories that you’re referring to–Les Moonves, as well as the NBC story–I think that they’re also being tried in the court of public opinion. Obviously, some of these news entities have announced internal investigations, like CBS doing that with Les Moonves, NBC doing that with Matt Lauer. But I think at the end of the day, when there are criminal charges, that’s obviously for the authorities to investigate. I know that as a company, they do what their company deems appropriate. Our jobs as journalists should be the same if we’re covering news about the news industry, or we’re talking about the entertainment industry, like with Harvey Weinstein. We have to try and be as objective as possible. In terms of how companies want to handle how they investigate? I don’t want to weigh in on that, but I will say that we talk about that. We report that. People can decide if that’s good enough for them, and the authorities can decide if that’s appropriate, whether it’s criminal or not. But I think that the important part about this is that we’re talking about it, we’re reporting on it, and we’re giving people information. They can decide if that affects what they want to watch, who they want to tune into, who they want to trust with their information.
Do you keep tabs on Dateline? Do you consider them competition, or do you just not think about them at all?
I can talk about myself, personally, and I definitely do not think about what they’re doing over there. Now as far as what my bosses might do, well that’s above my pay grade. I believe that it has always been my goal to focus on what I’m doing, to focus on the quality of my work, to focus on the quality of my questions and the way that I handle myself in interviews, the stories that I tell, what I write. In fact, every time I’m talking to someone about talking to me, I tell them that I’m responsible for every word that comes out of my mouth, and how I cover this. That’s on me. That’s where I keep my focus. I’m not going to say whether or not my executive producers, or people above me do that, but it’s not my job to worry about that.
I know you’re close with Sara Haines, and have ties to GMA franchise. What are you hearing about expectations for GMA Day?
Sara Haines is using my dressing room right now, so I hear a lot! I’ve been watching it every morning. There has been a lot of excitement. Everyone is very enthusiastic about having a show that gets to be fun, and be light and be happy. I think we don’t have a lot of that in this world these days, so I think it’s great to watch two people that I love. Sara and Michael [Strahan] have been two incredible friends, and they have genuine chemistry. We genuinely all like to hang out afterwards; we all saw a scary movie together last week. It’s nice to see people who have genuine chemistry get to work together and try something new and fun that hasn’t been done before. I’m excited for them, watching them get to do this together because there is an incredible camaraderie between the two of them, and I hope for nothing but success for them and I can’t think of two nicer people.