Jennings was most famous as the anchor and senior editor of ABC News' World News Tonight, where he established a reputation for independence and excellence in broadcast journalism.
Chronological Order of Peter's Life:
Peter Jennings was born on July 29, 1938 to Elizabeth Osborne and Charles Jennings in Toronto, Canada. His full name was Peter Charles Archibald Ewart Jennings. His broadcasting career began at the age of nine when he hosted a children's show on Saturday mornings on the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation). When he turned eleven, Peter attended the Trinity College School in Port Hope, Ontario. However, when his father's broadcasting job required them to move, he had to go to the Lisgar Collegiate Institute. He found the new school extremely boring, and eventually dropped out of school completely in the tenth grade. He now insisted on following in his father's footsteps as a broadcaster, but his first job came as a bank teller in the Royal Bank of Canada. He was transferred to the Royal Bank of Canada's branch in Brockville, Ontario where he explored acting by appearing in several amateur musical productions. Also in Brockville, he began his meteoric rise in broadcasting. He was hired by a local radio station to report the news, and the CBC picked up his stories. After the Brockville radio station, he joined a television news station in Ottawa. With the television station, he hosted the show Club Thirteen. Club Thirteen was the Canadian equivalent of American Bandstand. After Club Thirteen, he joined the CTV, the first private TV station in Canada. While reporting for the CTV, he became the first Canadian journalist to arrive in Dallas, Texas after US President Kennedy's assassination. In 1964, the CTV sent Peter to Atlantic City, NJ to cover the Democratic National Convention. There, he ran into Elmer Lower, who at the time was the president of ABC News. Elmer Lower offered Peter a broadcasting job, but he turned him down in fear of failing. However, three months later he decided to accept the job, and he packed his bags for America.
Once he arrived in America, he was sent to the ABC news bureau in New York City. He was placed in the field to do hard-hitting news stories. Quickly he was plucked from the field and placed as the single anchor of the primetime show "Peter Jennings with the News". While he was a great field reporter, he still lacked behind Walter Cronkite of CBS and Chet Huntley of NBC in anchoring skills. After three rocky years at the anchor desk, Peter called it quits and became a foreign correspondent. Once a foreign correspondent, he established the ABC bureau in Lebanon. This became the first American television news bureau in the Arab world. He became the chief of the bureau, and became extremely familiar with Middle-eastern affairs. In 1972, Peter was involved in his first major breaking news story: the Munich Olympic Massacre. The year after the Olympics massacre, Peter covered the Yom Kippur War. He covered many more major news stories and showed Americans more of what the Middle East was like. In 1974, he returned to the United States and became the Washington DC correspondent for the ABC News show AM America. He gave five-minute news reports from Washington every show. After ten months on AM America, he show was canceled, and he decided to go abroad again. He became the chief foreign correspondent for ABC News as he continued his coverage of Middle Eastern affairs. On July 8, 1978, the primetime news show World News Tonight debuted with three anchors, including Peter who reported from London. The new show soared in the ratings, and soon caught up with NBC in evening ratings. Jennings continued his masterful coverage of the Middle East even when he joined World News Tonight. When Peter's contract with ABC finally ended in the early 80s, he decided to return to Canada to work on the CBC show The Journal, however, the CBC could not meet Jennings' renegotiation deadlines and the deal fell through. On July 20, 1983, Reynolds, one of the other anchors of World News Tonight, unexpectedly died of bone cancer. ABC soon decided to place Peter as the show's sole anchor. This announcement signaled a general shift in the evening news broadcasts and the beginning the "Big Three" era of Peter Jennings of ABC, Dan Rather of CBS, and Tom Brokaw of NBC. Peter's debut on September 5, 1983 began the steady climb in ABC News' ratings to where they are today. Despite a shaky start at the anchor desk, Peter's broadcast ratings began to rise. In 1989, World News Tonight's ratings finished above both NBC and CBS's evening newscasts for the first time. In January 1990, Jennings aired the first episode of Peter Jennings Reporting, a primetime show dedicated to one particular story. Jennings continued to anchor special shows, even some aimed at answering kid's questions on current world events. In the next few years, Jennings became under controversy for his biased look on the stories he reported, and the very nature of some of his stories. Despite all of the successes World News Tonight made in the early 90s, in 1996 the ratings of it slipped below those of NBC's programming for two weeks. In response to this slip, Jennings and others at World News Tonight decided to go away from international stories, and aim themselves at more soft stories. This created a ratings plummet. As the new millennium approached them, Jennings decided to do a retrospective of the 20th Century. ABC hired experts, and the ratings began to rise once more. On December 31, 1999, Peter Jennings began a 23 hour broadcast of the new millennium. This program, ABC 2000 Today, raised the networks rating into first place until the second week in January when they again fell to second.
Jennings largest anchoring duty of his career came in September 2001 in response to the terrorist attacks. He was on air for seventeen straight hours, and received praise from critics for guiding Americans through the crisis. His praise by Americans during 2001 encouraged him to get a dual citizenship with the United States and Canada in 2003. He gained the citizenship on his first attempt at it. In late 2004, Brokaw decided to step down from his head of the NBC evening news, and CBS's Rather planned to step down in early 2005. Because of this, Peter and ABC decided to initiate a publicity blitz. In December 2004, Jennings developed an upper respiratory infection. For the first time, he was forced to remain in New York City instead of traveling to the site of a major news story, in this case the Asian tsunami. Beginning in March 2005, viewers of World News Tonight began to notice that Jennings's voice began sounding gravelly and unhealthy. He anchored the newscast on April 1, 2005, but then did not return for a few days. Viewers were wondering what had happened to Jennings, and on April 5, a prerecorded message of him was aired on television that stated that he had developed lung cancer. He told his viewers that he would no longer make regular newscasts, but rather do it when he felt healthy enough. In reality, this was his last appearance on television. Charles Gibson and Elizabeth Vargas now became the temporary anchors of World News Tonight. On August 7, 2005 Peter died from his lung cancer. The news was told by Charles Gibson who had broken into ABC's programming. He said that he died with his family on his side. He was sixty-seven at his death.