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“Walter Cronkite set the gold standard for broadcast journalism,” Sawyer said. “I was lucky enough to have worked with him, learned from him, and was able to see his humane intelligence at work in our lives. I am honored to accept this award in the spirit of Walter’s indelible legacy.”
Sawyer took over from Charlie Gibson as the ABC News anchor in December – one of only two women who have served in that role. For 10 years, she was the popular co-anchor of “Good Morning America.”
“Diane Sawyer’s extraordinary journalistic accomplishments make her an ideal recipient of the Walter Cronkite Award,” said Cronkite Dean Christopher Callahan. “We know Walter would be proud to have Diane as this year’s recipient of his award. She’s a terrific role model for our students and for all journalists.”
Sawyer joined ABC News in February 1989 as co-anchor of "Primetime." Prior to that, she spent nine years at CBS News, during which time she became the first female correspondent of “60 Minutes” and co-anchored the “CBS Morning News.”
During her long career, Sawyer has traveled around the world, covering breaking news and delivering in-depth investigative reports.
She has reported on presidential elections, the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and Hurricane Katrina and was the first American journalist to report live from North Korea. She has conducted interviews with many of the most significant newsmakers of the past three decades.
Her award-winning documentary work includes in-depth reports on the foster care system, poverty in America, the warehousing of Russian children in state-run orphanages, pharmacy prescription errors and abuse at state-run institutions for the mentally retarded.
Sawyer, who was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 1997, has won dozens of awards, including duPonts, Emmys, Peabodys, an International Radio & Television Society Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award and the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award.
A Kentucky native and Wellesley College graduate, she started her career at WLKY-TV in Louisville, Ky., in 1967. Three years later, she left to serve in the White House press office and assisted President Richard Nixon in the writing of his memoirs in 1974 and 1975.
Janice Todd, general manager of ABC15 in Phoenix and a member of the Cronkite Endowment Board of Trustees, said Sawyer’s career is an inspiration to students. “From documentaries to global reporting on a great variety of subjects to the anchor desk of ABC News, Diane Sawyer is a role model that today’s students should admire and respect.”
Cronkite, the longtime “CBS Evening News,” died last July at age 92. For 25 years, he personally presented the annual award to a prominent journalist. Past recipients include former NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Bob Woodward and Brian Williams, who broadcast “NBC Nightly News” live from the roof of the Cronkite School when he came to Phoenix to receive the award last year.
The Cronkite School, named in honor of the former CBS News anchor, is housed in a $71 million state-of-the-art media complex in downtown Phoenix. It is nationally recognized as one of the nation’s top journalism schools, with programs that includethe Carnegie-Knight News 21 Journalism Initiative, the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism, the Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship, the New Media Innovation Lab, Cronkite NewsWatch and Cronkite News Service.