NEW YORK (AP) — A list of Amy Robach’s reporting destinations over the past few years reads like a travelogue of horror: Newtown, Connecticut; Manchester, England; San Bernardino, California; Orlando, Florida; Brussels, Belgium; Sutherland Springs, Texas; Alexandria, Virginia.
The ABC News correspondent has become the network’s first choice to cover mass shootings. She doesn’t like the assignments — who would? — but believes she brings a certain skill to the situations that she wants to continue to cover despite getting a promotion to co-host the newsmagazine “20/20” with David Muir.
Robach said she cringes sometimes watching other reporters deal brusquely or with little compassion when speaking to the loved ones of shooting victims. She believes her experience with these stories make her better able to connect with people and tell their stories.
“I’m proud of how I tell their stories,” she said. “I’m proud of how I cover these tragedies. Somebody has to do it.”
When covering the 2012 elementary school shooting in Newtown, she drove nearly two hours home every night to be with her children, instead of staying locally. She interviewed the parents of a girl who was killed and when she learned that her own daughter, then in the first grade, was born on the same day, she had to briefly excuse herself in order to keep her composure.
Robach credits the assignments with making her a better parent. She and her husband, former actor Andrew Shue, have a “Brady Bunch”-like family of three boys and two girls from their first marriages.
“I don’t yell as much,” she said. “I don’t fuss over the little things as much.”
She refuses to talk on the air about any proposal to restrict gun ownership.
“I have no objectivity on that topic because of what I have seen on these assignments,” she said.
Robach, who joined ABC from NBC News in 2012, still reports for “Good Morning America,” but spends less time with the broadcast. She said she’s looking forward to more longer-form storytelling available on “20/20.” She’s been on the newsmagazine before, most notably lately with a two-hour special constructed around her interview with Tonya Harding.
Like some of its network competitors, “20/20” has gravitated toward single-hour topics with a heavy emphasis on crime stories. But Robach doesn’t want it to be exclusively crime, and “20/20” is able to move into other newsy topics, like recent hours looking back at the lives of Aretha Franklin and John McCain.
Its “Truth & Lies” series of two-hour, documentary-style films has been successful revisiting historical events, said Beth Hoppe, head of long-form programming at ABC News.
“What we’re doing is digging into stories in a real-life ‘Movie of the Week’ style, an evolution of what ’20/20′ has already been doing,” Hoppe said.
Robach said she’s healthy these days. She famously took a mammogram on “Good Morning America” for breast cancer awareness month in 2013 — and found through the seemingly routine assignment that she had breast cancer and needed a double mastectomy.
She’s healthy now at 45, buff from a six-day-a-week workout regimen and diet that cuts out sugar and carbs.
“I do everything I can to give myself the best chance at the longest, healthiest life possible,” she said.