Diane Sawyer to Step Down as 'World News' Anchor

Another shakeup is coming at ABC News, this time at the World News anchor chair.

Diane Sawyer will step down as anchor and managing editor of the nightly news program and will be replaced by 20/20 and weekend World News anchor David Muir on Sept. 2.

Additionally, Good Morning America and This Week anchor George Stephanopoulos has been promoted to chief anchor for ABC News. Stephanopoulos had been considered a potential replacement for Sawyer, but had recently agreed to a new contract to remain with his two programs.

"With these moves, and the incomparable Robin [Roberts] in her vital role as the heart and soul of our organization, I am confident that our best work and biggest scoops are straight ahead," said Disney/ABC TV Group co-president Ben Sherwood in a memo to staff.

Sawyer will still have a role with ABC News including producing and anchoring specials, as well as concentrating on new programming. Sawyer leaves World News after almost five years behind the desk; this will be the fourth anchor swap since the death of longtime anchor Peter Jennings in 2005.

The change at World News is the latest in what has been a year full of them at ABC News. Sherwood is set to take over for Anne Sweeny as president of Disney/ABC TV Group and cochairman of Disney Media Networks, with James Goldston being tapped as the new head of ABC News. GMA has seen the defections of Josh Elliott to NBC and Sam Champion to Weather Channel last December.

Muir has been one of ABC News' most visible anchors since coming aboard in 2003 and has served as weekend anchor of World News since 2007—also being Sawyer's main fill-in anchor during the weeknight broadcasts—and coanchor of primetime newsmagazine 20/20 since 2013. He received an Edward R. Murrow award last year for his reporting from the Mogadishu, Somalia famine.

“David has made his reputation reporting from the ground on every big story of recent times, and we know that when big stories happen, wherever they happen, David will be there for us and for our audience,” said Goldston.  “I am thrilled he is taking the helm at World News.”

Sherwood's full memo to staff is below:


By now you’ve seen the exciting news that James shared about Diane, George and David.

I just want to relay my enthusiasm and support for these big leaps and offer congratulations to all.

Over time, Diane, George and David have each engaged me and James in imagining and charting their respective paths. We are delighted that these new positions reflect our discussions as well as their individual passions, ideals, talents and goals.

Best of all, these new roles will further magnify their ability to do what they love most while advancing the essential mission of ABC News: Empowering our audience to change the future.

I want to acknowledge and celebrate Diane in particular for leading our division to great heights, especially and most recently at World News. Over the years, we have held many far-reaching conversations about work and life, and I know this new role is exactly how she wants to focus her remarkable energy and talent.  And I’m excited to watch her elevate all of our programs and platforms with her new ideas, dynamic team, and her signature reporting, interviewing and storytelling.

I also want to salute George and David, consummate and complementary pros who will – as always – make ABC News shine on the biggest, most important stories around the clock and around the world. From moments of triumph to moments of crisis, George and David will guide the way with intelligence, enterprise, understanding and connection.

With these moves, and the incomparable Robin in her vital role as the heart and soul of our organization, I am confident that our best work and biggest scoops are straight ahead.

So here’s to each and every one of you – on air and behind the scenes – for together ensuring that tomorrow will always be even bolder and brighter than today.