The 30 Most Impactful TV Newsers of the Past 15 Years: Diane Sawyer

By A.J. Katz 

To mark the 15th anniversary of TVNewser this month, Adweek honored the 30 Most Impactful TV Newsers of the Past 15 Years, spotlighting the personalities and execs who were instrumental in the industry’s incredible decade-and-a-half evolution. TVNewser will be presenting expanded versions of each honoree’s interview.

Diane Sawyer:

  • Job now: Anchor, ABC News
  • Job 15 years ago: Anchor, Good Morning America (later anchored ABC World News With Diane Sawyer from 2009-2014).

Adweek: Biggest way TV news has changed since 2004: 

Sawyer: Velocity, acceleration. I love that all the conventional wisdom that attention spans had so attrited that it was forever going to be—Vine was four seconds? Six seconds? And that now, we savor documentaries.  We were all coming in the next day and talking about Mr. Rogers and his neighborhood or we’re talking about Free Solo and that long-form has proven again that we want to sink into a story.  We want to learn everything we can about the story, at the same time that we love our quick hits.  So we can do both.

What’s something that you didn’t know perhaps about the business in January 2004 that maybe you know now?

Well, I still and am always amazed how the audience finds something new or something important to their lives.  And I’ve never known how they do it exactly because you, I mean you see minute by minute, right.

And you can see they’re not exactly watching or they haven’t exactly clicked on whatever.  And then this thing comes on and it leaps as if we all know, we all know that we have to keep searching together.  Maybe that’s just my eternal optimism but we are searching.  We’re looking for strengthening answers.  I believe that.

Favorite professional moment of the past 15 years: 

Oh my goodness.  Do you know how old I am?  Really, you want me to scroll back through the decades.  I know this sounds simple, but it’s always someone you meet out in the field who says something impossibly eloquent or in the moment where you’ve come and you want to do something to help them and they actually say what can I do for you.  Can I help you?  And just to be reminded always of the generosity of people.  And I look back at it more as what we’ve forged, rather than one event.  I look back at being able when you’re not sure what’s coming up next and you’re led to the wrong piece and you can’t get your name right and being able to look at you, and I got this, and to see someone next to you saying, I got this.