Tonight will be Charles Gibson's final sign-off as anchor of ABC's World
News. He's been with the company for over three decades and will be
replaced by Good Morning America co-host Diane Sawyer. At his
retirement, media observers are praising his chops and declaring the
end of an era as dwindling network viewership continues its decline.
- "I Have Loved Every Damn Day," said Gibson to his colleagues last night in New York City: "You can't forget how important it is what we do. You get caught up in the competitive aspects, you get caught up on so many ephemeral things and you get worried about this and that, but in the bottom line, the most important thing, overall, is that what we do is important. It has been an honor to work with all of you, truly an honor."
- Mr. Versatility, writes Frazier Moore, television writer at the Associated Press. Since he began with ABC News in 1975, Gibson has been a White House correspondent, co-anchor at Good Morning America, co-anchor at Primetime Thursday and World News anchor, writes Moor. "At 66, he's a proven utility player, game to handle a range of positions and scramble to the rescue when needed."
- The End of an Era, writes Eric Deggans of The St. Petersburg Times: "With Sawyer headed to World News, Couric at CBS and Williams at NBC, the network news universe heads into a new chapter Monday -- with very few traditions left for a dwindling audience.
- A Low Key Transition, notes Tom Jicha at The Sun Sentinel: "ABC is extraordinarily downplaying the change at the top. Sawyer has been refusing all interview requests. What's more, next week is one in which the heavyweights often excuse themselves for the holidays... A couple of possible reasons for not making a big deal of the switch: Gibson hasn't been in the job that long. He took over in May, 2006... Another reason why ABC isn't banging any drums could be that Sawyer doesn't figure to be in the anchor chair any longer than Gibson has been. She'll be 64 on Tuesday. Ascending to the role of the face of ABC News seems to be the cherry on the top of a distinguished career."
- So What? writes media columnist Tim Cuprisin: "This just isn't the big deal it would have been a few years ago... Audiences have been declining for decades. The three network newscasts still regularly pull in more than 20 million viewers each night. In 1980, before the launch of cable news alternatives and the Internet, that number was 52 million. Roughly a million viewers stop watching every year. "