Elizabeth Vargas and Bob Woodruff to Anchor ABC News

Elizabeth Vargas and Bob Woodruff have been named the new anchors of ABC’s “World News Tonight” rather than the veteran Charles Gibson.

Two Named to Head ‘World News Tonight’

Photo: This photo supplied by ABC shows Elizabeth Vargas and Bob Woodruff, named co-anchors of an expanded version of ABC's 'World News Tonight ' beginning Monday, January 2, 2006, posing in New York, Monday, Dec. 5, 2005.(AP Photo/ABC,Jeff Neira) ABC News settled on the youthful anchor team of Elizabeth Vargas and Bob Woodruff to replace the late Peter Jennings as anchor of “World News Tonight.” The network also said Monday that the second-ranked network evening newscast would be the first to broadcast live in three time zones, starting in January. Vargas and Woodruff will do new versions of “World News Tonight” for the central time zone and West Coast.

Left out of the mix was veteran ABC newsman Charles Gibson, co-host of “Good Morning America.” Gibson, Vargas and Woodruff had been the main substitutes since Jennings announced in April that he had lung cancer. Jennings died on Aug. 7. It was a key decision for ABC News President David Westin, who had to weigh whether it was worth disrupting the lucrative “Good Morning America” by taking Gibson off the broadcast. “I think ABC decided to take one risk instead of two,” said Bob Zelnick, former ABC newsman and now dean of Boston University’s journalism school.

With Vargas, 43, and Woodruff, 44, the anchor team has the potential to be in place for several years. The top-rated newscast, NBC’s “Nightly News,” is anchored by 47-year-old Brian Williams.

I watch very little television these days and know virtually nothing about Vargas and Woodruff other than that they appear very attractive, thus making them fully qualified to read the news to people too lazy to read it themselves.

In all seriousness, I’m sure they’re solid journalists, as is Brian Williams. We’ll never have the likes of Walter Cronkite and David Brinkley–or even Peter Jennings and Tom Brokaw–as news anchors again simply because we’re no longer a three network, no choices society.

The choice to do three live newscasts is interesting and may slightly offset the major downfall of network newscasts, which is that they tend to be rather stale simply because of the lightning fast pace at which information travels. Of course, the downside is that having three slightly different newscasts will further erode the major benefit still provided by network newscasts: the shared national experience.

Update (1/29): ABC Anchor Bob Woodruff Injured by Iraq Bomb

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. McGehee says:

    When I first heard this on the radio today I thought they were saying “Woodward” instead of Woodruff.

    They say the hearing is the first to go, and apparently when they told me they were mumbling.

  2. Josh Cohen says:

    Why does the Mountain time zone always get screwed? In the 80s, I remember shows saying “8pm eastern/pacific, 7pm central/mountain” or somesuch when they were being promoted. But now they’re not even bothering. XM is the same way; they announce shows at (ie) 10pm east, 9 central, 7pm on the west coast”.

    What’s so wrong with Mountain?

  3. James Joyner says:

    Maybe because only, like, 7 people live there?

    It’s likely coastal/urban bias. Indeed, if it weren’t for Chicago, they probably wouldn’t mention Central time either.