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ABC News taps Kim Godwin as president, a milestone for the broadcast industry

Stephen Battaglio, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Business News

Kim Godwin has been named president of ABC News, making her the first Black woman to run a broadcast TV news division.

Godwin, whose appointment was made official Wednesday by ABC parent Walt Disney Co., is exiting CBS News where executive changes are also underway.

CBS News President Susan Zirinsky confirmed to her staff that she will be leaving her post for a new role producing nonfiction programming at ViacomCBS, according to people familiar with the discussions who were not authorized to comment.

A representative for CBS News had no comment on Zirinsky's expected departure. The news veteran made it clear to staff that she is remaining with the company and will oversee a transition at the news division she first took over in Jan. 2019, according to a person who attended the meeting who was not authorized to discuss it publicly. No timetable was given for naming her successor.

Godwin, who was an executive vice president at CBS News, is joining ABC News at a time when it has the leading programs in the morning with "Good Morning America," and evenings with "ABC World News Tonight With David Muir." But the division was rocked by a report in the Huffington Post last year in which one of its top executives, Barbara Fedida, had made racist and demeaning comments about some of the talent at the network.

Fedida departed ABC after an internal investigation. Six months later, James Goldston stepped down as ABC News president, a post he held since 2014.

 

Godwin, who joined CBS News in 2007 after holding a number of positions in local TV news, was known for championing diversity efforts at the division.

"Kim is an instinctive and admired executive whose unique experiences, strengths and strategic vision made her the ideal choice to lead the outstanding team at ABC News and build on their incredible success," Peter Rice, chairman of Disney general entertainment content, said in a statement. "Throughout Kim's career in global news organizations and local newsrooms, she has distinguished herself as a fierce advocate for excellence, collaboration, inclusion and the vital role of accurate and transparent news reporting."

"I have immense respect and admiration for ABC News," Godwin said in a statement. "As the most trusted brand in news, they are to be commended for the extraordinary work and dedication of the journalists, producers, executives and their teams across the organization. I am honored to take on this stewardship and excited for what we will achieve together."

Godwin was discussed as a possible successor to Zirinsky when ViacomCBS first embarked on an executive search for her successor last year. George Cheeks, president and chief executive of the CBS Entertainment Group, congratulated her in an internal memo to staff.

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