The story of “World News Tonight’s” ascension is a bit more nuanced, starting even before ABC decided to replace anchor Diane Sawyer with rising star David Muir in September. At the same time, the venerable broadcast has slowly evolved into a newscast engineered for the social media age. In important ways, “World News” looks and sounds different from its competitors. It’s brighter, tighter and indeed quite a bit lighter than its evening rivals.
Under Sawyer, “World News” became noticeably softer, with a greater emphasis on celebrity and entertainment stories, weather coverage, crime fare, news-you-can-use and YouTube’s hottest videos. The trend has continued, and perhaps accelerated, with Muir, 41, at the anchor desk.
News from Washington — a staple of the broadcast since its Peter Jennings glory years — now fights for air. It usually loses: “World News” devoted half as many minutes to Washington stories as CBS did during the first four months of the year, and about 40 percent less than did NBC, according to Andrew Tyndall, who tracks the networks’ newscasts through his eponymous newsletter.
In perhaps a first for a national newscast, “World News” no longer has a full-time correspondent reporting on Congress. Such stories are handled on an ad hoc basis by reporter Jonathan Karl, whose primary beats are the White House and political campaigns.