Even if he never returns to the anchor desk at “NBC Nightly News,” Brian Williams will have lasted longer than most. According to an analysis by 538, the average tenure of a network news anchor is about 9.5 years. Williams famously celebrated a decade in the NBC anchor chair in December. If he returns in six months, he’ll build on that, though admittedly with an asterisk.
Jon Stewart, by comparison, has a tenure of 16.5 years on the desk at “The Daily Show,” which would make him one of America’s longest-serving news anchors if he were a “real” anchor.
Tom Brokaw, who preceded Williams at the anchor desk–and who is widely described as having huge influence in whether Williams continues in the job–is the longest-serving NBC News anchor, at 22.7 years.
At CBS, Dan Rather and Walter Cronkite had long back-to-back runs. Exactly 24 years for Rather (including a 2-year stint in the ’90s when Connie Chung was co-anchor) and a month shy of 19 years for Cronkite.
But the longest-serving of all the news anchors was ABC’s Peter Jennings, who stayed on top for 27 years. Jennings died in August 2005, while still at the helm of “World News Tonight.”