What 10 famous news anchors looked like before and after they made it big

Steve Fenn /ABC via Getty Images, Mike Coppola/Getty Images for WarnerMedia
  • News anchors have the faces and voices that share the world’s most notable events. At major networks, anchors quickly become iconic.
  • Many started as local news reporters or assistants, far from their primetime futures.
  • See how some of the most recognisable anchors in news looked when they were first getting started in the business.
  • Visit BusinessInsider.com for more stories.

Anchors on America’s biggest networks are responsible for covering the biggest news events that break across the world – but they weren’t always household names in primetime spots.

See how some of the most recognisable anchors in news looked when they were first getting started.

Anderson Cooper struggled to find an on-air reporting gig after he graduated from Yale in 1989, so he invented his own.

Bored by his time in his first job as a fact-checker, Cooper faked a press pass and travelled on his own to Myanmar, where he singlehandedly shot video segments the Thai-Burmese border on refugees’ clash with government forces. Channel One bought the footage and promoted Cooper from fact-checker to correspondent.

Cooper went on to report from all over the world before he was hired as a correspondent for ABC News in 1995 before assuming a co-anchor role on the network’s World News Now.

Embarking on a hiatus from news that he later blamed on the thankless schedule, Cooper joined the ABC reality show “The Mole” as host, but left to return to news after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

In 2003, CNN premiered “Anderson Cooper 360°,” on which Cooper became a household name for covering landmark events including Hurricane Katrina, the death of Pope John Paul II, and the Boston Marathon Bombing.

ANGELA WEISS/AFP/Getty ImagesAnderson Cooper attends the 10th Annual CNN Heroes All-Star Tribute at the American Museum of Natural History on December 11, 2016 in New York City.

Cooper has won several awards through his career, including an Edward R. Murrow Award in 2006, a GLAAD Media Award in 2008, and eight Emmy Awards. Cooper’s 2006 memoir on covering war and violence, “Dispatches from the Edge,” became a New York Times bestseller.

Katie Couric’s first job after graduating college in 1979 was an assistant with ABC

Couric began her journalism career as an assistant at ABC before joining NBC as a reporter and becoming co-anchor of the “Today” show.

Already a household name, Couric was named the first solo female anchor of “CBS Evening News” in 2006, and in 2012 she became host of the ABC talk show “Katie.”

Since early 2014, Couric has served as a global news anchor for Yahoo.

Bennett Raglin/FilmMagicKatie Couric attends the Sesame Workshop’s 50th Anniversary Benefit Gala at Cipriani Wall Street on May 29, 2019 in New York City.

Brian Williams began his broadcast career in 1981 at KOAM-TV in Pittsburg, Kansas.

After 12 years in local news, Williams joined NBC News as a national correspondent in 1993 before being named Chief White House Correspondent and anchoring “The News with Brian Williams,” which was broadcast on MSNBC and CNBC.

In February 2015, Williams was suspended for six months from NBC Nightly News after it was found that he “misrepresented events which occurred while he was covering the Iraq War in 2003,” and on June 18, 2015, he was demoted to breaking news anchor for MSNBC.

Williams is currently the anchor of “The 11th Hour with Brian Williams.”

Diane Sawyer kicked off her journalism career as a weather forecaster for WLKY-TV in Louisville.

Sawyer moved to Washington, DC in 1970 where she worked in politics before joining CBS News as a general assignment reporter in 1978. In 1984, she became the first female correspondent on the network’s “60 Minutes,” and further solidified her status as a household name on ABC News’ “Primetime Live,” “20/20,” and “Good Morning America.”

Sawyer succeeded her legendary colleague Charles Gibson in anchoring “ABC World News” in late 2009 and led the broadcast until 2014.

Ida Mae Astute/ABC via Getty ImagesDiane Sawyer signs off on her last broadcast as anchor of WORLD NEWS, 8/27/14.

Sawyer currently remains with the network for special projects and reports.

David Gregory began his journalism career at age 18 in 1988 for KGUN-TV in Tucson, Arizona before joining NBC at their West Coast affiliate KCRA-TV in Sacramento in 1995.

Screenshot via KCRADavid Gregory on KCRA in 1994.

Gregory went on to serve as White House correspondent during George W. Bush’s presidency where he covered the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. He also covered the 2000, 2004, and 2008 presidential campaigns.

Other landmark stories Gregory covered include the trials of OJ Simpson and the Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, the impeachment of President Clinton, and the death of Pope John Paul II.

Gregory appeared as moderator of NBC News’ “Meet the Press” from 2008 to 2014 before stints as a CNN political analyst for the 2016 election and a contributor for “Today” and MSNBC.

Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty ImagesDavid Gregory appears on NBC News’ ‘Today’ show

Source: American University

Lester Holt spent the first 19 years of his journalism career with local CBS affiliate stations in Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles, reporting in-studio and abroad from conflict areas including Iraq, Northern Ireland, and Haiti.

CBS via Getty ImagesLester Holt of CBS News, New York, NY. Image dated July 17, 1981.

Almost two decades after he was first hired as a reporter in 1981, Holt joined NBC News in 2000 and has since covered landmark events including Operation Iraqi Freedom. the war in Afghanistan, the 2010 Arab Spring uprising, and Nelson Mandela’s 2013 funeral.

Holt is currently the lead anchor of “NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt,” and appears in the network’s special reports, breaking news, and primetime political coverage.

Holt has been recognised with multiple Emmy Awards, a place on TIME’s 100 “Most Influential People” list, The Hollywood Reporter’s “Most Powerful People in New York” list, and “Journalist of the Year” by the National Association of Black Journalists.

Mika Brzezinski began her career in journalism as an assistant at ABC’s “World News This Morning” in 1990.

After years at local CBS affiliates, Brzezinski joined CBS News as an anchor, where she notably covered the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks live.

After working with “CBS Sunday Morning” and “60 Minutes,” Brzezinski was fired and joined MSNBC in 2007.

Brzezinski has since made major waves on the network with political coverage as co-host of MSNBC’s morning weekday show, “Morning Joe.”

Tucker Carlson began his career as a fact-checker for Policy Review, a conservative journal that was published by The Heritage Foundation.

Richard Ellis/Getty ImagesTucker Carlson of the Weekly Standard during a CNN National Town Meeting on the Media discussing coverage of the White House sex scandal, Arlington, Virginia, January 28, 1998.

Carlson went on to work as a reporter at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and The Weekly Standard, which he joined in 1995 before working as a columnist for outlets including Esquire, The Weekly Standard, The New Republic, The New York Times Magazine, and The Daily Beast.

After establishing himself as a fiery conservative voice, Carlson joined Fox News in 2009.

After stints across multiple Fox News shows, Carlson began hosting “Tucker Carlson Tonight” in 2016.

Jake Tapper began his career in 1998 as a print journalist at various publications before he was hired in 2003 to ABC News.

Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post/Getty ImagesNew ABC White House correspondent Jake Tapper, taping a stand up in front of the White House.

Tapper covered a range of topics for ABC including Hurricane Katrina and the war in Afghanistan before he was named Senior White House Correspondent on November 5, 2008. Tapper anchored ABC’s “This Week” from March to July 2010, until he was replaced by Christiane Amanpour.

In 2012, Tapper was named CNN’s chief Washington correspondent and in 2013, Tapper was named anchor of CNN’s “The Led with Jake Tapper.”

In 2015, Tapper became host of CNN’s Sunday political show, “State of the Union with Jake Tapper,” which he currently anchors.

Gary Miller/FilmMagicJake Tapper speaks during the ‘CNN Democratic Town Hall’ at ACL Live at The Moody Theatre during the 2019 SXSW Conference And Festival on March 10, 2019 in Austin, Texas.

Chris Wallace got an early start in journalism in local print and broadcast media.

Wallace’s stepfather was CBS News President Bill Leonard, who secured him a gig when he was 17 as Walter Cronkite’s assistant at the 1964 Republican National Convention.

After attending Harvard, Wallace worked at the Boston Globe before moving into broadcast at New York’s WNBC-TV in 1975 and serving as NBC’s Chief White House correspondent from 1982-1989, during which he covered the 1980, 1984 and 1988 presidential campaigns.

Wallace became a household name in his time moderating “NBC Nightly News” from 1982-1984 and 1986-1987 and “Meet the Press” from 1987-1988.

After he left NBC, Wallace spent 14 years at ABC, where he was the senior correspondent for “Primetime Thursday” and a substitute host for “Nightline.”

Wallace joined Fox News in 2003 and currently anchors “Fox News Sunday,” the network’s Sunday morning politics show.

Paul Morigi/Getty ImagesChris Wallace on the set of ‘Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace.’

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