(or ABC News Nightline
) is ABC News
' late-night television
news program broadcast on ABC
in the United States with a franchised formula to other networks and stations elsewhere in the world. Created by Roone Arledge
the program featured Ted Koppel
as its main anchor from March 1980 until his retirement in November 2005. Its current, rotating anchors are Byron Pitts
and Juju Chang
airs weeknights from 12:37 to 1:07 a.m., Eastern Time
, after Jimmy Kimmel Live!
, which had served as the program's lead-out from 2003 to 2012.
Through a video-sharing agreement with the BBC
repackages some of the BBC's output for an American audience. Segments from Nightline
are shown in a condensed form on ABC's overnight news program World News Now
. There is also a version of Nightline
for sister cable channel Fusion
The Iran Crisis–America Held Hostage
Shortly after its creation, Reynolds stopped hosting the program. Ted Koppel
, then ABC News's State Department Correspondent, took on the hosting duties. It was not until a few days later that a producer had the idea of displaying the number of days on America Held Hostage
(e.g., Day 15, Day 50, Day 150, etc.).
Ted Koppel's Nightline
The program originally aired four nights a week (on Monday through Thursdays) until 1982, when the sketch comedy
was shifted to air after Nightline
. By this time, the news program had expanded to 30 minutes. For much of its history, the program prided itself on providing a mix of investigative journalism and extended interviews (something that continues to be featured to this day, albeit at a reduced extent), which would look out of place on World News Tonight
Ted Koppel in 1982
The format of the show featured an introduction by the host, then a taped piece on the specific topic of the night; then after a commercial break, there was a live interview related to the topic of the piece. In 1983, ABC attempted to change the program's format to feature multiple topics and expand it to one hour, as opposed to focusing on a single topic in a half-hour. This switch proved to be unsuccessful, and after a few months, the original format of the program was restored. Once the original format returned, reverting to a 31-minute structure, it remained unchanged through the end of Koppel's tenure; it was changed following his retirement.
The program remains unique in American media, considering its nightly broadcasts. Most other similar shows only air once a week, though usually in a prime time
slot for a full hour. Nightline
is usually less sensationalistic
than the weekly news magazines (which often emphasize soft news
programming, stories of such type – such as pop culture
-related stories – Nightline
has incorporated to a moderate degree following Koppel's departure), though the program has caused controversy on occasion.
In 1982, Koppel interviewed Palestine Liberation Organization
(PLO) chief Yasser Arafat
on the program, in which he had indicated that he would not accept conditions from the U.S. to recognize the PLO.
In 1984, the program featured an interview with Supreme Court Chief JusticeWarren Burger
, marking his first live television appearance. In honor of the 40th Anniversary of D-Day in 1984, Nightline
aired a special edition which "covered" the landings on Normandy
as though modern television news, along with satellite reports, had existed at the time. The following year in 1985, the program conducted its first on-remote broadcast from South Africa
In 1986, the program featured interviews with the Philippines
' first female president
, Corazon Aquino
, and outgoing president Ferdinand Marcos
, the latter of which tried to defend the extravagant lifestyle (including the extensive shoe collection) of his wife Imelda
during the country's economic hardship.
In an interview with Nightline
in 1987, Colorado Democratic
senator and 1988 presidential candidate Gary Hart
admitted to having cheated on his wife, Lee Ludwig, with Donna Rice
, in the aftermath of an exposé in the Miami Herald
that revealed the affair, leading to his withdrawal from the presidential election. That year, Nightline
broadcast for the first time in the Soviet Union
. In 1988, Nightline
conducted a special report on-location from Jerusalem
In 1996, Times Books
published Nightline: History in the Making and the Making of Television
, about the program's history up to that point, with author credits attributed to Koppel and Nightline
producer Kyle Gibson. The book received numerous lackluster reviews. In Walter Goodman's
review of the book for the New York Times
, he observed "Ted Koppel announces in his introduction to Nightline
that he did none of the interviews that went into the book and that although he 'influenced' and 'contributed' to it, 'in the final analysis Kyle wrote it.'" Ken Tucker
in Entertainment Weekly
pointed in an unfavorable manner to the book's use of the third person
: "Throughout Nightline
the book, the star is referred to in the third person: 'Koppel said' this or that; 'Koppel hadn’t been asleep an hour when the phone rang.'."
Frederic M. Biddle of the Boston Globe
wrote "This book reminds us not only that good television doesn't necessarily translate into scintillating prose, but that behind every successful journalist lurks a good editor--who in this case didn't show up."
During Ted Koppel's tenure as anchor (and on rare occasions since his departure), Nightline
devoted each episode to a unique subject. Since its inception, the program has covered many subjects (science
, and breaking news
). Many candidates for government offices, such as David Duke
(in November 1991) have appeared on Nightline
to try to promote themselves. Seeing that there are a large number of prisons in the United States, it created an ongoing series in 1994 called "Crime and Punishment". The program also aired a series of episodes called "America: In Black and White" dealing with individual aspects of American race relations, and another on homosexuality titled "A Matter of Choice?"
Over the years, Nightline
had a number of technological firsts. The program did the first live report from the base of Mount Everest
. In November 1992, science reporter Michael Guillen did the first live broadcast from Antarctica
. There were times when a major breaking news story occurred as late as 11:00 p.m. Eastern Time, resulting in the subject of that night's edition being changed in order to cover the story in some form of detail, depending on the depth of information available at the time of broadcast. Examples of this were the deaths of John Lennon
) and Yasser Arafat
also held a series of town hall meetings
; these included the Israeli-Palestinian Town Meeting in 1987, one with Nelson Mandela
on June 21, 1990, and one discussing the War in Iraq
in 2003. The first such "Town Meeting", in 1987, was an extended edition (running for four hours and 12 minutes, until 3:47 a.m. Eastern Time, on the night of its broadcast) discussing the AIDS
epidemic of that period in the U.S. A major portion of the episode was devoted to interviews where important people were asked tough questions on the spot. Another series of town hall meetings featured public discussions and appearances by Japanese officials on the poor performance of American business during the 1980s, contrasted with the success of Japanese businesses. These town hall meetings coincided with the corporate takeovers of U.S. companies by Japanese corporations
during the early 1990s (such as MCA
, and CBS Records
and Columbia Pictures
by Sony Corporation
What had been intended to be a benign episode dedicated to the 40th anniversary of Jackie Robinson
breaking Major League Baseball's color barrier ended up being remembered for one of the show's controversial moments. The April 6, 1987
broadcast included longtime Los Angeles Dodgers
executive Al Campanis
, who had been with the franchise since before Robinson's debut. When Ted Koppel asked Campanis about why there were so few black field managers
or general managers
in the sport, Campanis responded awkwardly, saying that blacks may lack the "necessities" to succeed in those positions. Despite Koppel offering Campanis numerous chances to clarify or retract his remark, Campanis' subsequent responses only worsened his position. Koppel ultimately scolded Campanis on-air for proposing the "same kind of garbage" that Robinson's critics and skeptics had peddled in 1947. Shortly after the interview, the Dodgers
Later in 1987, the program broadcast an exclusive interview with televangelists Jim
and Tammy Faye Bakker
, following the former's sex scandal that brought down their PTL ministry. On December 3, 1990, Nightline
's controversial music video
"Justify My Love
" in its entirety, then interviewed Madonna live about the video's sexual content and censorship. The video contained imagery of sadomasochism
. When asked whether she stood to make more money selling the video than airing it on MTV
, she shrugged and answered, "Yeah, so? Lucky me." She also mentioned that the banning was hypocritical, as male artists were able to show music videos on the channel which contained sexist and violent imagery. She also mentioned that in her "Vogue
" music video she had worn a see-through lace top which exposed her breasts, but this was passed by the channel.
Reading of the names
Former logo, used from January 1998 to December 2017. This variant (which was displayed upright until November 2002) is based on the program's original 1980–97 logo.
On April 30, 2004
, Koppel read the names of members of the United States Armed Forces
who were killed in the Iraq War
since it began in March 2003. This prompted controversy from conservatives
who believed that Koppel was making a political statement and from management at Hunt Valley
-based television station owner Sinclair Broadcast Group
, which felt that ABC was undermining the war effort in Iraq; in protest, Sinclair forced its ABC-affiliated
stations not to air that night's edition.
Others, most notably the television columnist for The Washington Post
, thought it was a ratings
stunt for sweeps
; indeed Nightline
was the highest-rated program during that time period, and had about 30% more viewers than other editions of the program which aired that week. ABC responded to the controversy, saying that the program was meant to be "an expression of respect which seeks to honor those who have laid down their lives for this country."
Koppel repeated the format on May 28, 2004, reading the names of service members killed in the war in Afghanistan
, and on May 30, 2005, reading the names of all service members killed in Afghanistan or Iraq between the last program and the preparation of the program. This time, all of Sinclair's ABC stations aired the program as scheduled.
Ratings and threats of cancellation
For many years, rumors had been spread about the show's possible cancellation. However, during the so-called "late night wars" of 1993, when the Late Show with David Letterman
began competing with The Tonight Show with Jay Leno
, some in the industry believed that Nightline
would wind up in first place. On occasion, when a significant news story occurred, Nightline
would top its entertainment rivals in the ratings.
In 2002, ABC attempted to hire David Letterman
away from CBS
, a move that would likely have forced the network to cancel Nightline
. However, Letterman opted to sign a renewed contract with CBS to remain host of the Late Show
. An unverified story suggested that Letterman would have made the move had a Letterman talk show on ABC started at 12:05 a.m. Eastern Time in order to preserve Nightline
. When ABC debuted Jimmy Kimmel Live!
as a late-night talk
competitor to Tonight
and the Late Show
in January 2003, it was placed at the 12:06 a.m. Eastern timeslot instead of the 11:35 p.m. slot occupied at the time by Nightline
, again preventing its cancellation.
Koppel's final broadcast and "Closing Thought"
In March 2005, Ted Koppel announced that he would be leaving the show at the end of his contract. On November 22, 2005, Koppel retired from Nightline after 25 years as anchor of the program, and left ABC News after 42 years with the network, although it was an early departure from both as his contract was not set to expire until December.
Koppel's final broadcast of Nightline
did not feature clips, memorable interviews or famous moments from his tenure as host, as would be typical when an anchor retires. Instead, it featured Koppel's 1995 interview with college professor Morrie Schwartz
, who was suffering with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
. For this broadcast, Koppel interviewed sports journalist Mitch Albom
, who had been a student of Schwartz. Albom talked about how the Nightline
interviews led and inspired him into contacting Schwartz personally, and then visiting him weekly. These visits became the basis of the book Tuesdays with Morrie
, chronicling lessons about life learned from Schwartz. The interview was significant because Morrie was actually interviewed 3 times including the 1995 interview which took place a couple weeks before Morrie's death.
Every so often, Koppel ended the program with a "Closing Thought", in which Koppel usually expressed his opinion on the subject of the night's broadcast. On his final night, urging viewers to continue watching the program, Koppel concluded his final Nightline
broadcast with the following "Closing Thought":
There's this quiz I give to some of our young interns when they first arrive at Nightline
. I didn't do it with the last batch; it's a little too close to home. "How many of you", I'll ask, "can tell me anything about Eric Sevareid
?" Blank stares. "How about Howard K. Smith
or Frank Reynolds
?" Not a twitch of recognition. "Chet Huntley
? John Chancellor
?" Still nothing. "David Brinkley
" sometimes causes a hand or two to be raised, and Walter Cronkite
may be glad to learn that a lot of young people still have a vague recollection that he once worked in television news.
What none of these young men and women in their late teens and early twenties appreciates, until I point it out to them, is that they have just heard the names of seven anchormen or commentators who were once so famous that everyone in the country knew their names. Everybody.
Trust me, the transition from one anchor to another is not that big a deal. Cronkite begat Rather
, Chancellor begat Brokaw
, Reynolds begat Jennings
. And each of them did a pretty fair job in his own right. You've always been very nice to me, so give this new anchor team for Nightline
a fair break. If you don't, I promise you the network will just put another comedy show in this time slot. And then you'll be sorry. That's our report for tonight, I'm Ted Koppel in Washington, [and] from all of us here at ABC News, good night.
Post-Koppel Nightline (2005–present)
Along with the new anchors, Nightline
began airing live each night (outside of pre-taped story packages) and switched to a multi-topic format (similar to the format attempted during the short-lived 1983 expansion to an hour-long broadcast, although condensed to fit a half-hour timeslot) – that covers multiple stories in each broadcast. The conversion to a multi-topic format has received some criticism due to the fact that it is more difficult to focus on a story subject in depth when there is much less time devoted to it, and that more stories seen on the program seem to focus more on popular culture
, rather than news events.
However, ratings increased after the new format was implemented, even beating the Late Show with David Letterman
for three consecutive weeks in August 2006 and again in 2008.
On July 11, 2006, in his first appearance on the program since leaving Nightline
in November 2005, Ted Koppel made a surprise appearance on that night's broadcast to discuss the prisoner situation at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp
with co-anchor Terry Moran, and to discuss his then upcoming series for the Discovery Channel
On August 7, 2006, ABC shut down full-time Nightline
production from Times Square and moved the program to the ABC News Headquarters in Lincoln Square
, citing high production costs and logistical problems, though some special editions still do originate from Times Square Studios. In 2009, Nightline
announced that an online program was in development that would be hosted by the show's anchors through Twitter
, encouraging viewer discussion on the website.
On January 20, 2011, ABC News president Ben Sherwood
announced that Jimmy Kimmel Live!
(for which Nightline
had been serving as its lead-in since that program premiered in January 2003) would have its start time moved five minutes earlier to 12:00 a.m. Eastern Time, reducing Nightline'
s running time from 31 to 25 minutes. It was also announced that ABC would produce up to 13 hours of prime-time news content under the Nightline
brand. For the 2011-2012 television season, Nightline
again placed as the most-watched late-night television program among the major networks.
In 2011 Goldston departed as executive producer to move to Good Morning America.
On August 21, 2012, ABC announced that the program would switch timeslots with Jimmy Kimmel Live!
beginning January 8, 2013: Nightline
was moved one hour later to 12:35 a.m. Eastern Time, while Kimmel
moved to the program's former 11:35 p.m. timeslot, in order to compete with fellow late night talk shows The Tonight Show
and the Late Show with David Letterman
. Upon the move, Nightline
was also expanded to 30 minutes.
As part of this move, ABC also announced that it would launch a prime time
news magazine extension of Nightline
, which was originally scheduled to premiere on March 1, 2013;
the premiere of this program – later retitled The Lookout
, which focuses mainly on consumer reports and is produced by the Nightline
staff – was subsequently pushed back to May 29, 2013, airing in a Wednesday 10:00 p.m. Eastern timeslot.
Another prime time version of Nightline
, Nightline Prime
, premiered on March 15, 2014 in a Saturday 9:00 p.m. Eastern timeslot; this series featured reporters using small cameras to cover stories from within.
In October 2013, Good Morning America
weekend co-anchor Dan Harris
was named as a co-anchor of Nightline
, replacing Bill Weir
(who had recently left ABC News to become a correspondent for CNN
In August 2014, Cynthia McFadden left Nightline
and ABC News to become a correspondent for NBC News
, and was replaced as co-anchor by existing ABC News correspondent (and frequent contributor to the program) Juju Chang
On December 18, 2014, it was announced that Dan Abrams
would step down as an anchor of the program after that night's broadcast (although he would remain with ABC News as a correspondent and legal analyst), and would be replaced by Byron Pitts
effective the following day (December 19).
From March 16, 2020, Nightline
presented extended coverage of the initial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States
; co-anchor Pitts explained that the show was "leaning more heavily into [its] roots", and was consistent with the show itself having been "born in response to a crisis, giving facts, context and, when possible, comfort as our nation dealt with the Iran hostages". It was also announced that the program would temporarily return to its former 11:35 p.m. time slot from March 17 to April 10, replacing Jimmy Kimmel Live!
(which went on hiatus with reruns until March 30, when the program returned with original episodes produced from Kimmel's
was the highest-rated late-night program that week in total and key demographic viewership.
On March 24, 2020, Nightline
marked its 40th anniversary; Ted Koppel made a guest appearance, where he discussed his wife's vulnerability to COVID-19
due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
(COPD), and opined that "it's time more than ever in this country to come to the realization that what we need more than anything else, is reliable, credible journalists."
Note: The anchors alternate hosting duties, with neither appearing on the same night.
Former on-air staff
Nightline on Fusion
On February 12, 2015, it was announced that ABC and Univision
would launch a new version of Nightline
called Nightline on Fusion
. It is hosted by Gio Benitez
and Kimberly Brooks and airs on Tuesdays at 9 pm eastern with repeats at other times. The show is similar to the ABC version and shares resources and correspondents. However, the Fusion version puts more emphasis on stories from the flagship program which resonate with Fusion's younger, more culturally diverse target audience. It also features original content produced for Fusion.
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- ^ a b c d June 2007, Joel Topcik 16. "'Nightline' in the Goldston Era". Broadcasting Cable. Retrieved 2020-06-13.
- ^ "EXCLUSIVE: World News Kicks Off HD Expansion at ABC - World News with Charles Gibson, Nightline to begin broadcasting in 720p HD Aug. 25". Broadcasting & Cable. August 25, 2008.
- ^ Suzanne Trimel (April 26, 2000). "Roone Arledge Auditorium And Cinema Dedicated April 25". Columbia University.
- ^ "TV Guide Names Top 50 Shows". CBS News. April 26, 2002.
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- ^ Goodman, Walter (July 8, 1996). "BOOKS OF THE TIMES;Starry Eyes Look Back at Koppel and 'Nightline'". The New York Times. Retrieved March 29, 2020.
- ^ Tucker, Ken (June 14, 1996). "Nightline: History in the Making and the Making of Television". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved March 29, 2020. Throughout Nightline the book, the star is referred to in the third person: 'Koppel said' this or that; 'Koppel hadn't been asleep an hour when the phone rang.' Koppel notes in the introduction that 'I have contributed to this book, influenced it; but in the final analysis, Kyle wrote it,' so that probably explains it. Still, Ken Tucker thinks it comes off as silly and self-important of Koppel to have agreed to tell his story this way.
- ^ Biddle, Frederic M. (July 24, 1996). "IF YOU WANT TO KNOW ABOUT 'NIGHTLINE,' STICK TO THE TV". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved March 29, 2020.
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- ^ Gary Levin (August 21, 2012). "Jimmy Kimmel to go head-to-head vs. David Letterman, Jay Leno". Chicago Sun-Times.
- ^ Emily Yah (August 21, 2012). "It's Jimmy Kimmel vs. Leno and Letterman in January; ABC moves 'Jimmy Kimmel Live' to 11:35, 'Nightline' to 12:35". The Washington Post.
- ^ Alan Duke (August 21, 2012). "Jimmy Kimmel takes 'Nightline' slot next year". CNN.
- ^ Gary Levin (August 21, 2012). "Jimmy Kimmel faces Leno and Letterman head-on in January". USA Today.
- ^ Bill Carter (August 21, 2012). "ABC Sees a Contender in Jimmy Kimmel". The New York Times.
- ^ Scott Collins (August 21, 2012). "ABC moves Jimmy Kimmel to 11:35 p.m., adds 'Nightline' Friday run". Los Angeles Times.
- ^ "ABC News' 'Nightline' Primetime Will Be Re-Branded 'The Lookout'". The Huffington Post. May 23, 2013. Retrieved May 24, 2013.
- ^ Rick Kissell (March 13, 2014). "ABC's 'Nightline' Gets Primetime Run Starting This Weekend". Variety. Retrieved March 16, 2014.
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- ^ Tim Kenneally (March 27, 2014). "Cynthia McFadden Jumps From ABC to NBC News, Juju Chang to Replace Her on 'Nightline'". The Wrap.
- ^ Steinberg, Brian (2020-03-16). "Coronavirus Prods ABC's 'Nightline' to Return to Roots". Variety. Retrieved 2020-03-20.
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Last edited on 3 May 2021, at 20:54
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