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Thoughts on CNN's Christiane Amanpour taking over ABC Sunday politics show This Week



Amanpour ABC News has had amazing success recently with its recent anchor switches -- seamlessly slotting Diane Sawyer into World News and George Stephanopoulos into Good Morning America.

So I'm hesitant to be the sourpuss pouring cold water on their latest big idea: a recently-confirmed deal to hire CNN senior foreign correspondent Christiane Amanpour to take Stephanopoulos' place hosting ABC's Sunday political show, This Week.

But I have been scratching my head for a while since news first broke that Amanpour was talking with ABC about the job. Given that the network has avoided many of the issues I fretted over in its last set of anchor switches, maybe I'll be proven wrong here, too.

In an aside, it's interesting to see ABC News recognize the reality of how internal memos get posted to blogs and Web sites, by posting news president David Westin's email to staffers about Amanpour online for the public itself.

But here's what comes to my mind upon hearing this deal is final.

Diversity gains in TV news now center on gender -- It is gratifying and about time to see that several of the recent high-profile TV news anchor hires in recent months have gone to women, from Sawyer taking over World News to CNN's Candy Crowley taking over its Sunday political news shows State of the Union. Amanpour brings journalistic heft and an international perspective to This Week, along with further diversifying the ranks of those covering America's most important topics. I was hoping ABC might break the color line too by hiring PBS anchor Gwen Ifill, but this is still a wonderful hire for breaking up the old boys network of Sunday political TV.

Should This Week focus more on international issues? -- Given Amanpour's expertise on international affairs, I'm wondering what this means for the show's direction. As important as international awareness is, domestic politics are about to explode with the last-ditch attempt to pass changes in heath care, the run up to November's mid-term elections and the ongoing recession. Does it makes sense to pull the program into exploring international issues when there's so much happening on the home front?

Amanpourdoc Will ABC News have the resources for more international coverage? -- The news of Amanpour's hiring comes just after ABC confirmed plans to reduce its staff by up to 25 percent and push more reporters into filming and editing their own video footage. With ABC cutting back on resources, will the network be able to maintain a regular international presence?

In hiring Amanpour, ABC gets a host who isn't known as an anchor or for expertise in Washington D.C. -- Thinking outside the box is cool, so it will be interesting to see how different Amanpour's perspective is in shaping the show. I'm hoping This Week benefits from the perspective of someone who is outside the Beltway Gang and is willing to cover politics with a fresh eye. But it may be a challenge for someone coming from outside the Washington establishment.

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 3:06pm]


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