[First on Fishbowl]
Meet your new co-anchors: Elizabeth Vargas and Bob Woodruff.
We didn’t have to wait long to see who won the guessing game. Just moments ago, ABC News announced internally via closed circuit that Vargas and Woodruff will be the network’s new permanent co-anchors for World News Tonight, replacing Peter Jennings who died in August.
Point to Liz Smith.
While the email to staff said the duo would begin January 2nd, evidently they will actually start the 3rd.
In addition to the anchors, critical changes will be made in the nature of the broadcast: The anchors will do a webcast at 3:30 ET with many of the evening’s stories, followed by a live feed at 6:30 to the Eastern and Central Time Zones; with another live feed at 8:30 for Mountain/West Coast stations and another final live feed at 9:30 PM ET. “They’ll be exhausted by the end of the night,” one ABC insider said this morning.
The announcement was made to applause in the New York studio by David Westin and EP Jon Banner. Jennings’ wife, the staff was told, was informed last night of the decision.
Also announced this morning was an “expanded commitment” to news: with a webcast in the afternoon and live shows for both the East Coast and the West Coast every night.
More details coming….
> 10:45 UPDATE: Full email to staff after the jump, and TVNewser has some anchor quotes.
> ABC now has the press release up.?
Email to ABC staff from David Westin:
I am pleased to announce that Elizabeth Vargas and Bob Woodruff will co-anchor a new, expanded version of World News Tonight. Their experience as journalists, their familiarity to our audiences, and their commitment to gathering and delivering the news anywhere, anytime and in every way make Elizabeth and Bob the right team to take us forward for the next generation. Please join me in congratulating them.
Beginning Monday, January 2nd, when Bob and Elizabeth make their debut together as co-anchors, World News Tonight will become the first evening newscast to broadcast a live version to the West Coast each night. World News Tonight will also make various versions of its reports available over the Internet throughout the afternoon and evening.
World News Tonight has been and will continue to be the source for millions of Americans to get careful, comprehensive and insightful reporting of the news of the day. Now we will be providing that news live throughout the evening on television; now we will be making that news available to Americans throughout the afternoon and evening to those who want it over computers, mobile telephones, and the countless other digital means.
The loss of Peter Jennings was a great blow to us all. That blow fell heaviest on World News Tonight. Charlie Gibson, with Elizabeth and Bob, stepped into the breach and helped the broadcast when we needed it most. Since then, Jon Banner and his team have continued a broadcast of which Peter would have been proud.
Now, it is time to put into place a plan to take this broadcast into the future. Bob and Elizabeth, with Jon Banner, provide the leadership we need. They, in turn, will need our help and support to make the new, expanded World News Tonight the success I know it will be.