Sawyer to take over as anchor

2009-09-03 09:34

New York - Women will anchor two of the three major network evening newscasts - still considered the premier jobs in the television news business - after ABC said on Wednesday that Diane Sawyer will replace Charles Gibson, who is retiring at the end of the year.

Until Katie Couric became CBS Evening News anchor in September 2006, no woman had held the job done by broadcast legends like Walter Cronkite, Peter Jennings, Tom Brokaw, Chet Huntley, David Brinkley and Dan Rather alone.

Barbara Walters, Connie Chung and Elizabeth Vargas have done it only when teamed with men.

Sawyer's appointment is a "watershed moment," said the Women's Media Center.

"Diane Sawyer's expertise and professionalism are without question," said Carol Jenkins, president of the center. "We look forward to her debut in January, and to the changes in the perceptions of women's capabilities her reign will bring."


Sawyer called the job "an enormous honour".

Sawyer's departure leaves a hole at ABC's Good Morning America, where she was the show's centrepiece and co-host with Robin Roberts.

ABC had no immediate announcement on what will happen on that show,.

"Diane is one of the hardest-working people I know and this new assignment is the latest achievement in an already accomplished and illustrious career," said Couric, who competed against Sawyer as a host of NBC's Today show. "And as I did, I'm sure that she'll quickly find that she doesn't miss that early morning alarm clock."

Gibson, 66, who provided a steadying hand to a World News broadcast reeling from tragedy, said he had been planning to retire at the end of 2007 but events compelled him to stay. He was named anchor following the death of Peter Jennings and the wartime injury of Bob Woodruff in 2006. He's been at ABC News for 35 years and says he plans to continue as an occasional contributor.