Diane Sawyer ABC News Official Biography

ByABC News
May 18, 2020, 9:32 AM

Diane Sawyer is an ABC News anchor, tackling some of the biggest issues of our time in new ways with original reporting, prime-time specials, long-form interviews and in-depth investigations. One of the most respected journalists in the world, she has traveled the globe delivering thorough and breaking news reports, and has conducted interviews with almost every major newsmaker of our time. Her prime-time documentaries have won critical acclaim for shedding light on difficult and previously underreported topics, including her comprehensive reporting on the U.S. foster care system and realities of poverty in America. In 2017, she helped lead ABC News to win an Edward R. Murrow Award for Overall Excellence in Television.

In 2019, Sawyer continued to produce stories that resonated with Americans when she documented the impact of screen time, technology and social media on families across the country. She also had exclusive interviews with actress Demi Moore, Cameron Douglas and Julie Andrews on their new memoirs.

Recently, Sawyer reported on hard-working women facing sexual harassment and assault at their jobs. The one-hour special featured potential solutions and gave a voice to women whose lack of time, money and social media influence hinder their willingness to file complaints out of fear of losing their jobs.

Under Sawyer’s leadership, the acclaimed and award-winning “Hidden America” series has expanded into an ongoing series of reports across ABC News to shine a light on the people, places and stories of struggle and hope that are not well known or apparent to many in America. The reports also spotlight the creative and innovative actions of some extraordinary Americans to help people in their communities.

She and her team of producers spent two years in the hills of Appalachia reporting the February 2009 special, “A Hidden America: Children of the Mountains,” which won a Peabody Award and a Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award. In 2011, Sawyer continued her reporting on poverty in America focusing on the American Indian population with “A Hidden America: Children of the Plains.” In October 2012, Sawyer documented the violence plaguing Chicago – America’s third-largest city – in “Hidden America: Don’t Shoot I Want to Grow Up.”

In addition to extensive reporting from a war-torn community, she facilitated a solutions-based discussion between members of several rival gangs to see what, if anything, could be done to reverse the alarming pattern of violence and murder in the streets. In May 2013, Sawyer reported from Strawberry Mansion, one of the most dangerous schools in the United States for the last five years. With unprecedented access inside the Philadelphia high school, Sawyer gave viewers an up-close look at what it’s like to teach, learn and try to gain a foothold in life there, resulting in a Deadline Club Award win for ABC News. In 2015, she investigated incarceration for the third time in almost two decades in “A Nation of Women Behind Bars”; and in 2016, Sawyer delivered another hard-hitting investigation with her fourth special on prisons and jails with “Hidden America: Inside Rikers Island.” The piece was a critical look at the notorious institution’s history of violence and proposed reforms, including an interview with Commissioner Joseph Ponte. The next year, she chronicled a new reality of people working harder than ever but struggling to stay in the middle class. In “My Reality: A Hidden America,” Sawyer traveled coast to coast to explore issues of opportunity, income inequality and community solutions.

Highlights throughout her career include her 2017 interview with Olympic gold medalist and television personality Caitlyn Jenner two years after the groundbreaking ABC News special where Jenner talked publicly about her transgender journey for the first time, which won the GLAAD Outstanding TV Journalism and Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Awards; her sit-down with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the first televised interview on her book, “Hard Choices”; her exclusive with Jaycee Dugard five years after their first sit-down to discuss life after captivity; the interview with President Barack Obama as he made the case for military strikes in Syria; a one-on-one with Amanda Knox, the college junior who became the center of a dramatic murder trial in Italy; the first joint interview with outgoing Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and General David Petraeus in Afghanistan; and the first interview with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton after the U.S. took military action in Libya.

Among other highlights, Sawyer brought viewers audio recordings of the never-before-heard interviews with former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy recorded in the months after her husband’s assassination and spoke exclusively with Caroline Kennedy in 2011. In addition, when Japan was hit with a devastating combination of earthquake, tsunami and nuclear emergency in March 2011, Sawyer was the only evening news anchor to report on the aftermath live from Japan. She also reported from Southeast Asia in the wake of the deadly 2005 tsunami; from Moscow, where she made her way into the office of Boris Yeltsin at the pinnacle of the Soviet coup; from Egypt during the Gulf War, where she interviewed President Hosni Mubarak; and Amman, Jordan, where she interviewed King Hussein and Queen Noor. During the Iraq War, she conducted an exclusive interview with one of the main architects of Saddam Hussein’s biological weapons program, Dr. Rihab Taha, nicknamed “Dr. Germ.”

Back home in the U.S., Sawyer reported from New Orleans on the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in fall 2005. She also conducted a live, exclusive interview with President George W. Bush in the midst of widespread criticism of his administration’s handling of the storm. On Sept. 11, 2001, along with Charles Gibson, Sawyer began the network’s award-winning coverage of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. In the days that followed, she reported live from ground zero and later interviewed more than 60 widows who gave birth after the World Trade Center disaster

From 2009 to 2014, Sawyer was the anchor of “World News with Diane Sawyer,” leading ABC’s flagship broadcast to new heights. During her final season as anchor, the program delivered its most-watched season in six years. In 2011, Sawyer created the broadcast’s signature Made in America series that focused on products manufactured in the United States and ways to support American jobs and the economy. The series notably reported that the 2012 USA Olympic team’s opening ceremony uniforms had been made overseas.

Sawyer’s reporting has been recognized with numerous awards, including duPonts, Emmys®, Peabodys, the grand prize of the premier Investigative Reporters and Editors Association, an IRTS Lifetime Achievement Award and the USC Distinguished Achievement in Journalism Award. In 1997, she was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame.

Sawyer joined ABC News in February 1989 as co-anchor of “Primetime.” In addition to that role, she was named co-anchor of “Good Morning America” in January 1999, and held the post until taking over the “World News” anchor chair in December 2009.

Prior to joining ABC News, Sawyer spent nine years at CBS News, making history as the first female correspondent of “60 Minutes.” She also co-anchored the “CBS Morning News” and was CBS News’ State Department correspondent. While at CBS she covered the 1980, ‘84 and ‘88 national conventions as a floor and then podium correspondent.

Sawyer was part of the President Nixon transition team from 1974 to 1975 and assisted Nixon in the writing of his memoirs in 1974 and 1975. She began her career in broadcasting in 1967 in Louisville, Kentucky, where she was a reporter for WLKY-TV until 1970.

A native of Glasgow, Kentucky, and raised in Louisville, Sawyer received a Bachelor of Arts from Wellesley College and completed a semester of law school before embarking on a career in broadcasting.