Charles Gibson is stepping down as evening anchor at ABC News and Diane Sawyer is replacing him.
This would be an amazing thing if anyone still gave a hoot about network news! Sawyer is a 63 year old woman who has terrific credentials and did I mention that she’s a 63 year old woman? In a business where hairspray means more than journalistic experience, Sawyer’s appointment is a huge step in the credible direction. It’s too bad that no one will be watching.
Tell a teenager that 106 million people comprising 60% of all North American households watched the series finale of M*A*S*H and it won’t make sense to them. The biggest of big shows these days only draw a fraction of that because of a fragmented viewership. We only had a few channels back in the M*A*S*H heydey and the big three US networks were monoliths with real power. If they put something on the air it was a big deal because there was so much less air to fill. Now it’s sports events that bring in the most people but still, no one can touch the record and it’s not likely that anyone ever will. There are so many choices now and the networks are just lost in a sea of speciality channels. Some theorize that the economic backlash coupled with a smaller slice of the viewing pie will cause one of the big three to actually shut down! Must-see TV just isn’t what it used to be. Now it’s might-watch TV if there isn’t something better to do like dusting the furniture or cleaning the cat box.
So I’m proud of Diane Sawyer’s accomplishments and I believe she’s a respectable journalist who will do a great job. Now two of the three network new anchors are women. (Katie Couric anchors CBS) But it won’t mean much if they can’t attract viewers and unless they come up with an amazingly alluring marketing campaign, they won’t.