Two for "20/20"  | American Journalism Review
 AJR  The Beat
From AJR,   June 1995

Two for "20/20"   

By Kelly Heyboer
Kelly Heyboer is a reporter at the Star-Ledger in Newark, New Jersey.      


ABC's "20/20" lures away two correspondents from the competition to fill spots vacated by Catherine Crier 's move to ABC 's " World News Tonight" and John Stossel 's decision to take on a wider beat.

Arnold Diaz , a consumer reporter from CBS 's New York affiliate, and "Dateline NBC "'s Deborah Roberts will complete "20/20"'s team of six correspondents this month.

After 21 years at WCBS , Diaz, 45, takes over the consumer investigation beat from Stossel, one of his closest friends since they started at WCBS together in the early '70s.

"It was a no-brainer to take this job," says Diaz, whose heavily promoted "Shame on You!" investigative segments made him a fixture of local New York television. "Every job becomes slightly boring after 20 years."

Diaz concedes that he will probably always be known locally as the "Shame on You!" guy who sends New York City scam artists and dodgy shopowners running. But he is anxious to take his investigative talents from his poorly rated local affiliate to a national audience.

After conquering every kind of consumer scam in New York City, could the rest of the nation be a letdown?

"I'm not worried," he says. "I'm sure there is no shortage of scams, incompetence and crooks out there in the rest of the country."

General assignment reporter Deborah Roberts brings her talents from "Dateline NBC" to "20/20" this month after five years at NBC.

"I've been in the [TV] magazine business for a few years now," says Roberts, 34. "It was a case where my contract was near an end and ABC made me a tremendous offer."

With "Dateline NBC" now airing three days a week, the prospect of working on a once-a-week show like "20/20" hastened her move. "It will be nice to spend a little longer putting together stories," says Roberts, who had been with "Dateline NBC" since its inception.

The Georgia native worked at several local news affiliates in the South before moving to NBC News in 1990, where her coverage of the Persian Gulf War secured her a spot as a correspondent on NBC's new magazine show.

The move to ABC tops off what will be a banner year for Roberts. "I've got a lot of changes going on," says Roberts, who plans to marry NBC weather personality Al Roker in September. The only downside to changing jobs, she says, is that she will no longer be working in the same building as Roker and the couple will not be able to have lunch together as often.

"But it's OK," laughs Roberts. "We'll have a lot more to talk about at dinner."

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