The generational shift in nightly news continues.
Charles Gibson is stepping down as anchor of World News Tonight at the end of the year, yielding his role on the second place network news broadcast to Diane Sawyer, his former Good Morning America co-host. Gibson has anchored World News since May 2006, when he took over shortly after Bob Woodruff, then the show's newly-appointed co-anchor, was badly injured by a roadside bomb in Iraq. Woodruff and Elizabeth Vargas had only just replaced Peter Jennings, who was forced to step down by the lung cancer that would kill him.
There don't appear to be any hidden politics underlying Gibson's decision, just simple fatigue and a desire to enjoy life outside the full-time grind of the news cycle. In a message to his ABC News colleagues, Gibson pointed out that he never meant to keep working this long. "It had been my intention to step down from my job at Good Morning America in 2007, but with Peter's illness, Bob's injuries, and Elizabeth's pregnancy, the job at World News came open in May of 2006, and [ABC News president] David [Westin] asked me to step in as anchor," he wrote. "Life is dynamic; it is not static."
Gibson will take a break from television altogether for an indefinite period of time beginning in December, but says he plans to return to ABC as a part-time contributor, much as Tom Brokaw has continued to contribute to NBC.
Gibson is 66, the same age Jennings was when he retired, although Gibson is by all accounts in good health. Brokaw relinquished the anchor chair at NBC Nightly News at age 64, while Dan Rather presided over CBS Evening News until he was 73.
Sawyer is only two years younger than Gibson, suggesting that her tenure at World News will also be a relatively brief one. Her ascension means that, after decades of being dominated by graying-haired men, the nightly news game has now become a predominantly female enterprise, with Katie Couric having succeeded Rather at CBS.
Charles Gibson retires at ABC; Diane Sawyer is new anchor