ABC 7 brings ‘real and dynamic’ reporter home

Lisa Parker, the veteran investigative reporter and weekend news anchor at WMAQ-Channel 5, still remembers the day she interviewed Diane Pathieu for an internship at the NBC-owned station.

“Diane was younger than most candidates, so I challenged her to tell me why she should get the opportunity instead of an older student,” Parker recalled. “By the time she finished her answer, I had already signed the paperwork.”

Parker became a mentor to the Rogers Park native and Columbia College graduate, who went on to reporting and anchoring jobs in Dubuque and Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Since 2005 she has been a morning reporter and noon news anchor at WTMJ-TV in Milwaukee.

On Thursday, Pathieu, 33, made it back home when her hiring was announced as a per-diem general assignment reporter at ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7. The move was first reported by Duane Dudek of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

“Diane is a solid reporter with great energy,” Jennifer Graves, vice president and news director of ABC 7, said in a statement. “She knows Chicago and is looking forward to working again in her hometown.” Pathieu, who starts December 5, will make her first appearance on the station’s weekend morning newscasts December 10.

Parker said she was thrilled to welcome her protégé back to the market, albeit at a competing station. “Diane has a unique blend of intensity and warmth, and she works her tail off with a big smile on her face. Even as a college student she had an ability to ferret out the good stories, and she related to the viewers involved in our stories in a meaningful way. Her unfaltering positive attitude even stayed intact when she worked the hardest, least-thanked job in the newsroom — the assignment desk. Diane very much self-identifies as a Chicago girl, and I know viewers will find her real and dynamic.”

For Pathieu, working here has been a lifelong ambition. “My goal has always been to one day work in my hometown of Chicago,” she told Assyrian Voice editor Ashur Sada in an interview last summer. “I’ve wanted to be in the television news business since I was a little girl, so I began to pursue it right away after high school. I don’t know why I was so passionate about news, but I was, and it’s been an incredible journey.”

As a first-generation American whose family comes from Lebanon and Syria, Pathieu said she's proud of her Assyrian heritage. “When I first got into this business about 11 years ago, it was never really that important to share your nationality,” she told Sada. “Viewers always would assume my nationality was Greek or Italian, and I would always have to correct them. Then, more and more, I wanted people to really understand the Assyrian people and how they differ from ‘Lebanese’ or ‘Arabic’ people, so I started explaining it to my co-workers. In each of the stations I worked at, all of my co-workers knew what ‘Assyrian’ was, and that made me so proud. I still have a flag at my desk.”

In a message to her Facebook followers Thursday, Pathieu wrote: “It’s very bittersweet to share this, I am moving back home to Chicago! I have an incredible opportunity to work for a station my family and I have been watching for years!”

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Laura Baginski, Editor (@TimeOutChicago)