change at abc news: style or substance?
Although I don't watch network news much anymore, I felt a twinge of pain at the news that ABC has removed Elizabeth Vargas as its prime time anchor, replacing her with Charles Gibson who now does the network's morning show. The move was perhaps inevitable, given that Vargas is pregnant with her second child, ratings are down, and her broadcast partner Bob Woodruff was seriously injured in an Iraqi ambush and has not returned. Still, it leaves me with some regrets.
Whenever I saw Vargas, she seemed to me competent and professional, a serious newsperson with just the right amount of warmth for what is (let's face it) in part an entertainment program. That's not taking anything away from Gibson or for that matter Katie Couric, who I suspect will grow into the job despite suggestions that she is "soft" because of her Today show experience (Indira Gandhi was said to be a caretaker, also). But it would be nice to see the first woman anchor--actually, it would be nice to see ANY anchor, at this point--come from a hard news background rather than from a feature-oriented show. Perhaps Vargas will always be remembered with an asterisk--the first woman to head a network newscast except it doesn't really count because it happened by accident, because Katie Couric was more important, etc. Then again, perhaps she'll be back. Here's hoping.