Diane Sawyer signs off early from ABC’s ‘World News,’ ending five-year run as anchor

She’s going for an early dismissal.

Diane Sawyer will sign off from ABC’s «World News» Wednesday ending a five-year run as one of the nation’s most watched news anchors. The move came a day earlier than originally planned and caught many by surprise.

«See you tonight for my last night anchoring,» Sawyer tweeted . “Great adventures ahead.»

While the Sawyer’s exit has been in the works for some time, it will be the fourth anchor swap since the 2005 death of Peter Jennings.

«Like everything else, she’s doing it on her own terms,» an ABC News source said of Sawyer’s exit plan, which she quietly shared with only a handful of confidantes on Wednesday.

David Muir, who was named as her replacement earlier this year, officially takes over the telecast on Sept. 2.

It’s a curious day to exit — at the end of summer in the middle of the week — but Sawyer has quietly orchestrated her exit on her own terms for months and has her reasons, ABC News insiders said.

«She wants a little more time to herself,» the source said. «The summer is over and the next phase in her career has already started.»

Her new gig will pay far less than Sawyer’s reported $20 million annual salary and will include overseeing a new investigative unit for ABC News. The group will include many hand-picked, all-star producers, who will retain their top jobs at several news divisions, ranging from «Good Morning America» to «Nightline.»

She is expected to anchor prime-time specials and big interviews, but won’t be going the Barbara Walters route, sources said.

The shift comes as «World News» has been scoring well against NBC’s «Nightly News» in the all-important Nielsen ratings. The network’s ratings are at a five-year high.

On her last full week at the anchor desk (the week ending Aug. 18) Saywer beat NBC’s «Nightly News» in the coveted «news demo» advertisers care so much about, viewers ages 25-54, for the seventh time in the last eight weeks averaging 1.92 million viewers to best Brian Williams’ 1.86 million.

As a whole, Sawyer drew a whopping average of about 7.36 million viewers to «World News» last week, helping to prove exactly how important the evening news still is in a changing media landscape driven by instant news and rolling deadlines.

It may have been those numbers — especially the notion of going out on top — made sweeter by the opportunity to start the long holiday weekend a bit early that prompted Sawyer to hang it up two days early.

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