Diane Sawyer broke through new ground as a women journalist, becoming the first female correspondent on 60 Minutes and the anchor of ABC World News.
Sawyer was born with the name Lila Diane Sawyer in Glasgow, Kentucky in 1945. Sawyer was one of three girls. Her father was a Republican politician and former Navy Captain during World War II and her mother was a grade school teacher. In high school Sawyer sang in choir and was the editor of her school newspaper. Sawyer also won the 1963 Miss Junior Miss of America pageant, which allowed her to tour across the country promoting the Coca-Cola Pavilion at the New York World’s Fair in 1964-65. The experience gave Sawyer the confidence and experience to think under pressure with grace.
Following high school, Sawyer, like her older sister Linda, attended the distinguished all girl Wellesley University in Massachusetts. Upon graduation with an English degree in 1967, Sawyer headed back to Kentucky.
Early Career: Journalism and Politics
Despite originally wanting to be a lawyer, after one semester at the University of Louisville’s law school, Sawyer decided her true calling was in journalism. Her first job in the field was a weather reporter for a local Louisville television station. Sawyer was not satisfied with just the weather. She worked into the night to learn how to work the camera and edit film, and she fought for actual news assignments. Eventually, Sawyer’s work paid off and she was promoted to a full-time news reporter.
In 1970, Sawyer went to Washington to work as a press assistant for President Nixon’s White House. She earned the nickname of “the smart girl” from the president. After Nixon’s resignation, Sawyer loyally followed the disgraced president and assisted Nixon in writing his memoirs.
From Politics back to Journalism
After four years, Sawyer finally left politics and returned journalism as a CBS New correspondant. Sawyer rose through the different programs and up in the ranks and in 1984, she blazed a new trail for women journalists when she became the first female correspondent of the respected news magazine 60 Minutes. Five years later, Sawyer switched networks to work on ABC’s Primetime Live with Sam Donaldson. Sawyer also co-anchored ABC’s 20/20 from 1998 to 2000. And, in 1999 she returned to a.m. news co-anchoring Charles Gibson on Good Morning America. She would later return to Primetime in 2000 and cover important stories like the aftermath of the September 11th attacks. Sawyer stayed at Primetime until 2006 when she moved onto become the anchor of ABC World News, the flagship evening news program.
From growing up as the middle child in a small town in Kentucky to becoming the anchor of one of the most prominent news programs in the country, Sawyer is a role model to all aspiring young journalists. She’s won numerous awards, has been inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame and still continues to find and share important news stories with the nation.