"It has not been an easy decision to make," Gibson said in an e-mail to the "World News" staff. "This has been my professional home for almost 35 years. And I love this news department, and all who work in it, to the depths of my soul."
ABC News President David Westin said that he and Gibson have been talking about the decision for several weeks and that Gibson "has persuaded me that this is both what he wants and what is best for him."
"I respect his decision, just as I respect the enormous contribution he has made to ABC News through the years," Westin said.
Westin also announced Sawyer's move to "World News."
"Diane Sawyer is the right person to succeed Charlie and build on what he has accomplished," ABC News Westin said in a statement. "She has an outstanding and varied career in television journalism, beginning with her role as a State Department correspondent and continuing at 60 Minutes, Primetime Live, and most recently Good Morning America."
Westin noted that Gibson came to lead World News "after a difficult and turbulent time" after the death of anchor Peter Jennings and then injury of World News co-anchor Bow Woodruff by a roadside bomb that struck his vehicle near Taji, Iraq.
ABC News' Charles Gibson, anchor of 'World News', sent the following email to staff announcing his intention to step down from the broadcast at the end of the year. ABC News president David Westin announced "Good Morning America" co-anchor Diane Sawyer will anchor 'World News' starting in January 2010.
I have always been taught you should never bury the lead -- so I write to tell you that I have told David Westin I want to step down as anchor of World News, and retire from full time employment at ABC News.
It has not been an easy decision to make. This has been my professional home for almost 35 years. And I love this news department, and all who work in it, to the depths of my soul.
I have received much comment, and quite a few emails and letters referring to the signoff Eddie Pinder convinced me to use - wishing that everyone has had a good day. But the proudest part for me has been saying "...for all of us at ABC News...", since those words signify in my mind that I have been in a position to speak for an entire news department that I consider second to none.
It had been my intention to step down from my job at Good Morning America in 2007 but with Peter's illness, Bob's injuries, and Elizabeth's pregnancy, the job at World News came open in May of 2006, and David asked me to step in as anchor. It was an honor to do so. The program is now operating at a very accelerated, but steady, cruising speed, and I think it is an opportune time for a transition -- both for the broadcast and for me. Life is dynamic; it is not static.
I have told David I would like to continue in some capacity contributing occasionally to ABC News. He has been receptive to the idea -- and we will be discussing what that role might be.
Most importantly, my heart is full of gratitude for those with whom I have had the privilege to work as a correspondent, as a host at Good Morning America, at Special Events, and now as anchor at World News.
I'll be anchoring World News through December and will have a chance to thank many of you personally. In the meantime let's get back to the news.