For Eyewitness News, Bill traveled to Israel the week before the start of the war in Iraq, to find out how Israelis and Palestinians were preparing for a possible military conflict 500 miles from their land.
Bill has investigated drug use among teenaged Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn, and looked into problems with the dramatic increase in the number of building scaffoldings in New York. Bill also covers fire safety and prevention for Eyewitness News, and hosts the annual "Operation 7 Save A Life" a special and campaign. Bill has climbed the Empire State Building, tagging along with the man who repairs and replaces the broadcast antennas on top of New York's tallest skyscraper. And, for the first time on live television, Bill was tested for prostate cancer. As part of the test, Bill also interviewed New York's most famous prostate cancer patient: former Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
Bill writes a daily column, Behind the News with Bill Ritter, which previews the 11 pm edition of Eyewitness News. It's sent via e-mail, and regularly offers insights into how we gather the news.
Before joining Eyewitness News, Bill worked at ABC News in January 1993 as co-anchor of "Good Morning America Sunday." Since then he has covered dozens of important news stories for "Good Morning America," including the crash of TWA Flight 800, the death of Princess Diana, the criminal and civil trials of O.J. Simpson, the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing and the devastating Midwest floods of 1997.
Ritter's feature reporting for GMA includes revealing interviews with boxers Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield, golfers Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer, former evangelist Jim Bakker and Peanuts cartoonist Charles Schulz. He also contributed to "Good Morning's" series, which included in-depth looks at drugs and teenagers, the alarming increase in "budget" plastic surgeries and the emotional consequences of so-called "blended" or step families.
For 20/20, Bill has reported stories that run the gamut from light-hearted to heart-warming to deadly serious. He investigated the claims of James Van Praagh, the supposed psychic who says he can talk to the dead; he covered the Columbine High shootings; he investigated the phenomenon of patients waking up during surgery; he reported on "slip and fall" scams at casinos across the nation; he reported on a New York man who died while donating his kidney to his wife, his family says, the doctor left the O.R. before the surgery was completed; he examined the affects of parental anger on kids by having cameras in several homes for several weeks; he debunked the so-called urban legends that sprung up in the wake of September 11; and he followed a group of female Army recruits as they went through a grueling nine-weeks of basic training.
On the lighter side, he has paraglided off an 11,000-foot mountain in Aspen, scaled a rock face in Jasper, Canada, "posed" as a bull-clown at a rodeo in Texas and was the first non-Barnum and Bailey employee to perform on a trapeze for that circus.
Prior to joining ABC, Ritter was a reporter for KCAL-TV, the former Disney-owned independent station in Los Angeles, from June to December 1992, where his "Up Front" segment headlined the station's successful 9 p.m. weeknight news broadcast, showcasing his perspective of the day's top national or international story.
Previously, the Los Angeles native reported on the Rodney King trial and the subsequent Los Angeles riots for the Fox Television Network. From August 1991 through February 1992, Ritter also served as a reporter for the Fox Network's nationally syndicated show Entertainment Daily Journal (E.D.J.); and from February 1990 to August 1991 was an investigative reporter for KTTV-TV (Fox Television) in Los Angeles. He also was an anchor for the station's Gulf War coverage.
While serving as a business, then investigative reporter for KNSD-TV (NBC affiliate) in San Diego from February 1987 to January 1990, Ritter, known for his white-collar crime investigations, captured four Emmy Awards. In 1989 he was honored for his investigative reporting in uncovering a local stock swindle, as well as for his "overall journalistic enterprise."
In 1987, he also won in both of these categories, this time for his reports exposing a safety scandal involving killer whales and their trainers at San Diego's Sea World of California. Ritter also was named NBC Affiliate Reporter of the Year in 1987 and 1988.
Ritter began his career in print journalism in 1972. He served as a reporter, then business editor, of the San Diego County edition of The Los Angeles Times from February 1984 to January 1987. In 1984, he won The Los Angeles Times Editorial Award for uncovering a $200 million broker fraud in San Diego. He also worked as a reporter and editor for the San Diego Business Journal from June 1980 to January 1984.
Additionally, Ritter served as chairman of Crash, Inc., a non-profit drug education and prevention organization in San Diego, from 1980 to 1990. He also was on the San Diego State University Business School advisory board in 1984 and 1985. Ritter attended San Diego State University, majoring in accounting and economics.
New York is now the 23rd state to legalize medical marijuana, but the law comes with severe restrictions and it could be another year and a half before the program actually gets started.
We know that letting go is not always easy. I remember the mixed emotions of dropping two kids off at college - some weepiness down deep, but also satisfaction that, dang-it, this is what's supposed to happen. People grow up. Times change.
We lit a candle for Irl Ritter this morning. That was my dad's name. It was never fully explained why his parents decided to spell "Earl" as "Irl," but it was one of the many things that made my father unique.
It was a war he didn't start. A war he campaigned to end. A war he did end. Now Pres. Obama finds himself walking a political tightrope: What to do with a situation in Iraq where civil war is growing, where fundy Islamists are taking over cities and refineries, where militants will institute strict Muslim law in a country where diversity has prevailed (if not always peacefully).
Few people thought she'd survive when she was shot in the head, a 2-year-old caught in gang-banger crossfire in the Bronx.