Charlie Gibson to Anchor ABC's 'World News'

ABC has chosen a new anchor for its evening news show. Charlie Gibson is moving from Good Morning America to World News Tonight. Gibson replaces Elizabeth Vargas and Bob Woodruff. The show had already lost Woodruff to a serious injury suffered while reporting in Iraq. Vargas recently announced she was pregnant.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

Our business news begins with a change in the evening news.

(Soundbite of music)

MONTAGNE: ABC News has announced it will replace World News Tonight anchor Elizabeth Vargas with Charles Gibson, just months after Elizabeth Vargas was first named to the job. The network turns to the veteran anchor after a series of setbacks. NPR's David Folkenflik has the story.

DAVID FOLKENFLIK reporting:

Elizabeth Vargas and Bob Woodruff were named to replace the late Peter Jennings, who was diagnosed with lung cancer and then died last summer. As ABC News President David Westin says, the two younger anchors were supposed to guide ABC News into the next generation.

Mr. DAVID WESTIN (President, ABC News): But for an IED attack in Taji, north of Baghdad, we'd be pursuing that strategy on World News Tonight.

FOLKENFLIK: Woodruff was severely injured by that roadside bombing back in January, just a few weeks into his tenure. He's not expected back soon. And when Vargas told Westin she was pregnant, he went back to the drawing board.

Mr. WESTIN: We've needed to determine a long-term strategy for anchoring of World News Tonight, which really has been without a permanent anchor for about 14 months.

FOLKENFLIK: After agonizing over different solutions, Westin turned to Charlie Gibson. He's 63, and a familiar and genial presence as the co-host of ABC's Good Morning America.

Vargas will return from maternity to leave to her old job as the anchor of the news magazine 20/20. The network says it's her choice, but CBS Evening News - long in third place for ratings - recently beat ABC's World News Tonight. And Katie Couric hasn't even arrived yet at the CBS anchor desk. Andrew Tyndall is an industry analyst who has all three networks as clients. He says ABC hasn't given Vargas enough time.

Mr. ANDREW TYNDALL (Television News Analyst): It's unfair to deprive her of a job after ten weeks on the job, because the format of a nightly newscast takes a lot longer than that to settle down, to adjust to the personalities of the anchor.

FOLKENFLIK: But Westin says Vargas and Woodruff made sense as a team, and now the network has to find a new path.

Mr. WESTIN: Charlie Gibson, on the other hand, is as experienced a television journalist as there is today. Given what was done to Bob Woodruff, I think this is clearly the right answer for our audience in the evening.

FOLKENFLIK: Gibson will start next week.

David Folkenflik, NPR News.

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