Throwback Thursday – Diane Sawyer, one of the strongest female journalists of our time

Continuing our celebration of Women’s History Month, Throwback Thursday celebrates one of the greatest female journalists in American history. Born right here in southcentral Kentucky in Barren County, Diane Sawyer is best known for her years spent anchoring Good Morning America and ABC World News Tonight.

Born December 22, 1945 in Barren County, Diane was the daughter of Jean Dunagan and Erbon Powers “Tom” Sawyer, an elementary school teacher and county judge. Her family moved to Louisville when she was young, where her father became active in city politics and was killed in a car accident in 1969. The “Tom” Sawyer State Park was named in his honor.

Diane attended Seneca High School, where she was editor-in-chief of its yearbook. She considered herself artistic, being a fan of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau’s literature. In 1963, she used her writing skills and education to win the National Junior Miss America pageant, traveling the country for the next three years. She earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Wellesley College in Massachusetts in 1967, returning to Louisville after graduation to work as a weather forecaster for WLKY television. 

She added notes to weather reports and worked her way toward being a reporter, moving to Washington, D.C. in 1970 as assistant to the White House deputy press secretary. Within months, she was drafting President Nixon’s statements. For years, many believed she may be the infamous Deep Throat, who leaked information to journalists during the Watergate scandal. 

By 1978, she joined CBS News as a reporter. She was the first female correspondent for 60 Minutes by 1984. She moved to ABC News in 1989. She co-anchored 20/20 with Sam Donaldson and Barbara Walters from 1998 to 2000. She co-anchored Good Morning America from 1999 to 2009, anchored ABC News until 2014, and is currently a special news contributor.

A role model for female journalists and leaders, we appreciate Diane Sawyer’s southern Kentucky roots.