Diane Sawyer Reached Out to Lisa Ling During Crisis

updated 09/04/2009 AT 6:00 AM ET

originally published 09/04/2009 AT 8:15 AM ET

Still rejoicing over last month’s release of her sister, journalist Laura Ling, from North Korean captivity, TV host Lisa Ling has another cause for celebration: her friend Diane’s Sawyer’s appointment to the anchor job of ABC World News Tonight come January 2010, as the network announced this week.

“Finally!” writes Ling, 36, on Oprah.com, the Web site of Oprah Winfrey.

But Ling’s elation isn’t only professional, it’s personal. “Recently, during my sister’s detainment, Diane not only reached out, but took time out of her chaotic schedule to help our family,” says Ling. “She made calls and took meetings on our behalf for which we will be forever grateful.”

Tracking her relationship with Sawyer, 63, Ling says the two met about 10 years ago, when the younger journalist was starting out and encountering other “high-profile news talents [who] were less than cordial. I won’t name names, but as a young reporter I recall a number of reporters treating me terribly dismissively.”

Not so Sawyer. “She was kind, gracious and, most importantly, she treated me with respect,” says Ling. “I have never forgotten it.”

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