ABC News Does The Right Thing--And Gets Too-Real Results

It's not the way ABC wanted it for its new prime-time news team. Its "World News Tonight" won the week among key demographic viewers mostly from curiosity over the show's severely injured anchor Bob Woodruff and cameraman Doug Vogt.

This rubber-necking over a highway accident is sad. ABC's intention in having its new anchors Woodruff and partner Elizabeth Vargas was to get real with journalism. News anchors get tarred with the description they aren't real journalists from viewers, especially young, savvy viewers.

In the wake of the passing of Peter Jennings, it's the proper send-off--ABC's attempt to rid "anchors" of the claim that they don't focus enough on journalism. David Westin, president of ABC News, should be applauded.

Here's the grim news: "World News Tonight" won the week in adults 25-54--the dominant advertiser-selling demo for news--with a 2.7 rating. ABC won every night of the week except Wednesday, which went to NBC. In total viewers, NBC won the week with 9.6 million viewers--ABC got 9.3 million and CBS, 7.5 million. ABC also won Monday night with a big number--the first night after Woodruff and Vogt were hurt--with 11 million viewers.



In England, and other nations around the world, TV news programs' news "anchors" are more aptly described as news readers. We, in the U.S., think too much of ourselves to give our jobs that kind of accurate description. Jennings, Dan Rather, and Tom Brokaw, all had other titles such as managing editor, which are more duly served. Perhaps future broadcasts should refer to these news hosts in that regard.

No doubt having anchors become real journalists is a way to level with apathetic young viewers who are decreasingly interested in the news. ABC's attempt to strip away the pretense, the pomp and circumstance--the "voice of God" attributes--was paid back with real, on-the-job consequences.

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