Diane Sawyer has been quietly changing the face of ABC World News and has quickly distanced herself from the show’s former host Charlie Gibson, who retired at the end of 2009. Her placement as anchor of World News was done, not with a PR blitz similar to Katie Couric’s move on CBS, but with a whisper.
“Her network did announce that they would change the face of evening news,” says Martin Kaplan, director of the Norman Lear Center and journalism professor at the University of Southern California. “That was a burden that Katie Couric had to bear and that is not happening with the case of Diane Sawyer.”
Sawyer’s foreign reporting has been prolific compared to Gibson. She has already had trips to Copenhagen for an interview with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, flew to Afghanistan for reports on the latest news in the war on terror and then straight over to Haiti to cover the devastation from a massive earthquake earlier this month.
“It was just soul-searing heartbreak,” says Sawyer of her two days in Port-au-Prince with executive producer Jon Banner. “We kept saying it was inexpressible; we felt we could not convey fully what it was to look in the eyes of people who had nothing, all the way to the horizon.”
“I love the field,” says the 64-year-old. “I love to be there, sense it, experience it. I love, from my years of doing it, what people say to you and how it affects your understanding of the story. They say it to you where they live, not where you live.”
“I’m very happy with (Sawyer); I’m very happy with the broadcast,” said ABC News President David Westin. “She’s just so good in the field. It’s a combination of how knowledgeable she is and how curious she is going in.”
Monday will be a shuttle flight to Washington to interview President Barack Obama. She’ll anchor the broadcast from the U.S. capital.
“They have to restrain me,” said Sawyer. “I will get on the plane at the drop of a story.”
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