Diane Sawyer’s move from ABC’s “Good Morning America” to solo anchor on “ABC World News” in December last year made her only the second woman to be given such a job full time, and has placed her in the company of Walter Cronkite, David Brinkley, John Chancellor and Peter Jennings.
Sawyer’s ascendancy has solidified the runner-up spot in the ratings for “World News” behind the apparently unassailable Brian Williams at NBC. But behind her perennial serenity, Sawyer likes to duke it out, and it’s unlikely that she will be content unless she ultimately topples the Peacock from its perch. In her first year in the hot seat, she seems determined to prove, by sheer volume of activity alone, that she is equal to the task.
She had barely sat down at her new desk before she flew to Copenhagen to interview Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. In January, Sawyer went from the war in Afghanistan to the harrowing earthquake in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. That same month, she got President Obama to chat on-air just before his State of the Union speech.
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The following months were almost equally peripatetic. In April, when 29 miners were killed in West Virginia, she was there, and the following month she reported from Louisiana on the oil gusher in the Gulf of Mexico.
In the second week of September, ABC reported that her show averaged 7.11 million viewers, increasing its total audience for the third straight week to its highest since May. The gap in viewers between “World News” and NBC’s “Nightly News” was 680,000, about 36% smaller than the previous week, ABC said.
After taking the job, Sawyer expanded her reach by starting a daily web chat called “The Conversation” and set up a public Facebook page on which she lets her guard down — just a bit.
“Her real sense of giving voice to those who aren’t heard is incredible,” says “World News” exec producer Jon Banner. She’s the perfect news anchor for our times.”