Elizabeth Vargas and Bob Woodruff were named co-anchors of an expanded version of ABC News' flagship broadcast "World News Tonight," ABC News President David Westin announced today. Beginning Tuesday, Jan. 3, when Vargas and Woodruff debut together as co-anchors, "World News Tonight" will become the first evening newscast to broadcast a live version to the West Coast each night. "World News Tonight" will also make various versions of its reports available over the Internet throughout the afternoon and evening.
"Elizabeth and Bob together will be the anchors for this new broadcast and digital age of 'World News Tonight.' Their experience as journalists, their familiarity to our audiences, and their commitment to gathering and delivering the news anywhere, anytime and in every way make them the right team to take us forward for the next generation," said Westin.
He continued: "'World News Tonight' has been and will continue to be the source for millions of Americans to get careful, comprehensive and insightful reporting of the news of the day. Now we will be providing that news live throughout the evening on television; now we will be making that news available to Americans throughout the afternoon and evening to those who want it over computers, mobile telephones and the countless other digital means."
Vargas will remain co-anchor of ABC News' "20/20." For the past several years, she has also been a regular substitute anchor of "World News Tonight," and, since April 2005, has filled in on the broadcast a part of each week. She was also the anchor of "World News Tonight Sunday." As an award-winning anchor and correspondent, Vargas has traveled the world covering breaking news stories, reporting in-depth investigations and conducting newsmaker interviews. She recently anchored for both "World News Tonight" and "20/20" from the Gulf region, covering Hurricane Katrina's devastation; traveled to Beslan, Russia, to cover the terrorist attack and found stories of hope after rebels attacked a school and killed more than 300 people, more than half of them children; reported from the Middle East including on the standoff at Arafat's headquarters in Ramallah and for a special on the resurrection of Jesus; and reported from Cambodia on the plight of orphans for sale. Vargas anchored ABC News coverage of live, breaking news stories including the deaths of President Ronald Reagan and John F. Kennedy Jr. and the 2003 blackout. She won an Emmy in 2000 for Outstanding Instant Coverage of a News Story for anchoring live coverage of the Elian Gonzales case. Her primetime reporting on the death of Matthew Shepard and an investigation examining the disappearances of several young women in northern California and why their stories failed to attract the significant media attention Laci Peterson won critical acclaim.
Woodruff has been the anchor of the weekend editions of "World News Tonight" and a regular substitute for the weekday broadcast. As one of ABC News' top correspondents, he has covered major stories throughout the country and the world. His reports from New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina helped focus the nation's attention on the building tragedy there. He was ABC's lead correspondent on the Asian tsunami. He has covered the entire so-called "axis of evil," the nuclear showdown in Iran, and in June 2005 he got unprecedented access to the secretive country of North Korea. In the last presidential election, Woodruff reported on the campaign of Sen. John Edwards. He has also reported extensively on the continuing unrest in Iraq from Baghdad, Najaf, Nasariya and Basra. During the initial invasion, Woodruff reported from the front lines as an embedded journalist with the First Marine Division, 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion. Before moving to New York in 2002, Woodruff worked out of ABC News' London Bureau. After the Sept. 11 attacks. he was among the first Western reporters in Pakistan and was one of ABC's lead foreign correspondents during the war in Afghanistan, reporting from Kabul and Kandahar on the fall of the Taliban. Before becoming a journalist, Woodruff was an attorney.
"I am honored and humbled by this new assignment," said Woodruff. "Peter Jennings set a standard that all of us in journalism aspire to meet. Following in his path as co-anchor of this broadcast is a weighty challenge but it's also an opportunity for Elizabeth and me to help ensure the broadcast lives up to his ideals and continues his unwavering commitment to covering the world."
"I've had the opportunity to work with the 'World News Tonight' team over the past years and have been inspired by their professionalism and dedication. Their ability to put on a first-rate broadcast night after night throughout months of sadness and grief has been nothing short of amazing," said Vargas. "Bob and I are surrounded by a broadcast team and a news organization that is second to none. I am honored and excited by the opportunity to help lead 'World News Tonight' into the future."
Westin also announced that beginning Jan. 3, the 6:30 p.m. ET, 8:30 p.m. ET (5:30 p.m. PT) and 9:30 p.m. ET (6:30 p.m. PT) feeds would all be anchored live each night by Vargas and Woodruff. In addition to the anchored portions, reporter packages will be updated with the latest news for each feed. The change means that for the first time viewers in major markets like Los Angeles and San Francisco will always see a live evening newscast.
Also beginning Jan. 3, "World News Tonight" will produce a live daily Webcast anchored by Vargas and Woodruff. The Webcast will include a brief update of the day's top stories with a preview of that evening's "World News Tonight" broadcast and will air live on ABC News Now, ABCNEWS.com and will be distributed wirelessly. This marks the first time an evening newscast has produced a unique program for the Internet audience.
"World News Tonight" will also significantly increase its presence on ABCNEWS.com with distinct content programmed specifically for the Internet audience. The redesigned World News Tonight section at wnt.abcnews.com will provide:
In a first, "World News Tonight" correspondents and anchors' reporting will be available throughout the day, even before the broadcast.
Interactive presentations, additional video and in-depth information relating to stories aired or airing on "World News Tonight," in the "Broadcast Plus" portion of the site.
Extended-play versions of select high-impact anchor packages and special reports.
Unaired portions of interviews with newsmakers and ABC News contributors.
Round-the-clock updates on the latest news.
The Blue Sheet -- the broadcast's daily blog, with contributions from Vargas, Woodruff and WNT producers and writers, stimulating conversation, provoking thought, and demystifying the process of putting the broadcast together.
"Now 'World News Tonight' will always be on," said Jon Banner, executive producer of "World News Tonight." "We are revolutionizing the way the evening news is delivered -- the broadcast will no longer be confined to the evening, no longer limited to television and now will be live to the West Coast."