Why Diane Sawyer Will Be Better Than Katie Couric

ABC announced today that Charles Gibson, host of its nightly news show World News Tonight, will retire at the end of this year and be replaced in January by Diane Sawyer, the current co-host of Good Morning America. The major significance of the decision is obvious: two of the three nightly network newscasts will now be anchored by women. It was a watershed move when Katie Couric became the first woman to be the solo host of a network newscast in 2006─but while Sawyer's ascension to World News is less splashy than Couric's due to the latter's historical significance, it's very likely that Sawyer will avoid the tumultuous start that Couric had. Unlike Couric, there shouldn't be a betting pool going on about how long it will take Sawyer to quit. Here's why:

Sawyer's not the first.

Simply put, Sawyer will benefit from not being the first woman to anchor a newscast, and therefore won't be judged as harshly as was Couric. There's much less fanfare associated with being appointed the second female news anchor, so the perception will be that she was the best person for the job, not that a network executive was trying to punch a hole through a glass ceiling merely for its own sake.

She'll avoid Couric's mistakes.

The biggest error Couric made in her initial broadcasts was trying to shake up the format of the nightly news. She tried to make it cozier and more informal, doubling down on the early criticism that she lacked the hard-news bona fides to host the show, rather than doing everything in her power to combat that perception. The result of her early experimentation was a severe ratings dip after the novelty of female-anchored news wore off. Sawyer will come in with the knowledge that Couric lacked─the fact that people watch the nightly news in order to have the day's stories read to them in a grave voice. That's all.

Sawyer has gravitas.

Although it seems like Couric and Sawyer are making the same transition─host of morning show to host of nightly news─their paths are the opposite. Couric cut her teeth at Today, which is why her appointment to The CBS Evening News was met with such skepticism. Sawyer, on the other hand, is a more seasoned newswoman, with a firsthand knowledge of politics. She worked under Richard Nixon and was once suspected of being the loose-lipped "Deep Throat," whose whistle-blowing led Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein to unravel the Watergate scandal. She was a correspondent for 60 Minutes and a host of PrimeTime Live. All her news experience made her placement on GMA the eyebrow-raiser, not her upcoming return to news.