NEW YORK — Among the stories David Muir will introduce during his first week as ABC's "World News" anchor is one he reported about a generation of Syrian refugees missing out on an education.
Besides detailing a hidden aspect of the civil war, the story serves a dual purpose: to signal viewers — and his bosses — that Muir wants to get out of the office for work as much as he can.
"A huge part of this for me was a promise that I was not going to be tethered to the anchor desk," said Muir, who officially replaces Diane Sawyer Monday night.
Muir, 40, joins NBC "Nightly News" anchor Brian Williams and Scott Pelley of the "CBS Evening News" at one of the three jobs generally considered the pinnacle of American broadcast news. Muir is also a generation younger than the 55-year-old Williams and Pelley, 57.
Already a familiar face as "World News" weekend anchor and Sawyer's sub on weeknights, Muir has groomed himself for the job since he was a child.
As a latchkey child of divorced parents growing up near Syracuse, N.Y., Muir took comfort from the news "family" that appeared on his television each evening. He watched ABC's Peter Jennings, trying to guess who would be named "person of the week." At age 12, he wrote to Syracuse anchorman Ron Curtis for advice on how to get in the business and had an internship at WTVH-TV by the next summer.
Muir became so familiar that the newsroom had a spot on the wall to mark how much he'd grown each year. When he was still at nearby Ithaca College, WTVH hired Muir to anchor the weekend news.
After five years at WTVH, he moved on to Boston and, in 2003, came to ABC News. Hurricane Katrina was one of the first places his work attracted attention.
"All of the elements of being a news anchor he does superbly," said David Westin, the ABC News president who hired Muir. He shows versatility in reporting, interviewing and working in the studio, he said.
Network anchors traveling to stories used to be more commonplace, and when Westin appointed Bob Woodruff and Elizabeth Vargas to replace Jennings a decade ago, it was on the theory that at least one would be on the road regularly. It has become less frequent, in part due to costs. Muir considers the reporting an important part of his identity and, he believes, what viewers expect of him.