ABC Anchor Changes Reflect ‘Good Morning America’ Takeover of News Division

George Stephanopoulos Good Morning America News

ABC has made official what has been apparent for some time: That “Good Morning America” — and its entertainment-over-news priorities — is the most important part of its news division. That was codified in Wednesday’s announcement regarding the replacement of Diane Sawyer, which tapped David Muir to fill her “World News” seat, but made “GMA’s” George Stephanopoulos the network’s face during major events and breaking-news situations.

If the splitting of those duties sounds relatively minor, it represents a sharp departure from history, where the evening-news anchor was always the “face” of the news division. One need only think back to the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, when the trio of Dan Rather, Tom Brokaw and Peter Jennings held sway, as they had so many times before during various tragedies and milestones.

This isn’t intended as a slight to Stephanopoulos, who has demonstrated himself to be a workhorse, anchoring the Sunday discussion show “This Week” as well as the ascendant “GMA.” But there’s no getting around the fact he spends his mornings hanging out in the TV equivalent of a radio morning zoo, a broadcast as committed to fashion and cooking and musical performances as it is to anything approaching a traditional understanding of hard news.

ABC has been fairly unabashed about this shift in priorities. Indeed, as far back as early 2012, ABC News president (and Disney Media Networks Group chief in waiting) Ben Sherwood rejected the distinction between “hard” and “soft” news as a concept, a mind-set that is readily apparent in the downward slide of “Nightline” into something approaching a fuzzy syndicated newsmagazine. As evidence, look no further than last week, when the program that Ted Koppel had made one of TV’s most prestigious broadcasts featured a breathtaking expose on male strippers — helpfully promoted as “the real ‘Magic Mike,'” just for those who couldn’t figure out the connection on their own.

Given the success of “GMA” in unseating “Today” as the morning’s ratings leader, pragmatists will find it hard to question ABC’s strategy. And in terms of sheer tonnage, the morning has long had an advantage, what with two hours of airtime to sell each day, compared to a mere half-hour for “World News” and its counterparts.

Still, if serious journalism at times appears to be dying the death of a thousand small cuts, consider this one more wound. And to those who would consider such a lament just another example of journalists clinging to a past that no longer exists, fine, guilty as charged — and get off my lawn.



Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 9

Leave a Reply


Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  1. Fred hanson says:

    GMA has gone down hill in the past 2 years. The one person whwhoo should had left the show is Lara. What a fake she is and even garage sale people cannot put up with her. If I want entertainment there are many better shows out there. I want news nothing more or nothing less.

  2. DGB says:

    GMA no longer speaks to me. I no longer watch ABC network or local news, not quite sure what audience they’re looking for. I now watch NBC network and local news and the Today show.

  3. maty says:

    But gma had always been an entertainment program mixed with real news. It was largely directed towards women, even though some men, like retirees, watched. The reality is that, even though news information has changed, their audience has not. It is still mostly women, married or older than 50, who are at home. These individuals want news but more entertainment. gma must decide does it want to be a serious news program or an entertainment one with some hard news? Given their audience, it is best to be the latter.

  4. Cath says:

    There is nothing to Good Morning America. It is all flashy graphics and infotainment. On the other end of the spectrum the CBS Morning News is alarming and strident and a little overwrought for the morning. It isn’t until Charlie, Gayle, and Nora calm down and slow down that the show hits its stride. Don’t know about Today. Haven’t even tuned in in years. I’d rather listen to, rather than watch, Mike and Mike in the Morning.

  5. neicy says:

    This is why I no longer watch GMA, it is not news. It is fluff about the latest Disney movie or promoting the Friday concert. The whole program, aside from the 5 minutes given to news headlines, is all an extended version of Pop news. I , as an adult, who wants to know what is going on in the world; and I don’t mean the Kardashians, now watch The CBS Morning Show. It is a shame what has happened to the ABC news division

  6. Debi says:

    I will be happy to tell Mr. Sherwood that giving Lara a co anchor title was a huge mistake! She is no where close to co anchor/journalist
    that Good Morning American has had for many years! It was Amy Rorbach who stepped in to take Robin’s place while away on her medical leave, she should of be given that title. Lara is “Pop News” and nothing else! I just can’t see why the ABC doesn’t read the comments viewers post about Lara! George is the top notch best at his position and deserves the new title!

    • Julie Kenyon says:

      that’s when I stopped watching Lara’s terrible, I like George I always have liked him. Now poor Robin’s going to be all by herself.

  7. Jenny says:

    Good morning America, is time to look for another morning show, without George the show won’t be the same.

  8. Patricia Josker says:

    You need to tell Ginger Z, what said said about the older couple in the car accident was uncalled for!!

More TV News from Variety