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May 28, 2024
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ABC News President Kim Godwin Exits Network

ABC News President Kim Godwin Exits Network

ABC News president Kim Godwin is out at the network.

Debra OConnell, president, News Group and Networks at Disney Entertainment, and Godwin shared the news in internal memos sent to staff Sunday night.

Godwin told staff that after reflecting on her tenure, “I have decided to retire from broadcast journalism.”

“Anyone who’s passionate about what we do knows there’s no other business like it, so this was not an easy or quick decision,” Godwin continued. “But after considerable reflection, I’m certain it’s the right one for me as I look to the future and prioritize what’s most important for me and my family.”

In her memo, OConnell said that she would lead ABC News in the interim.

“For the time being, I will oversee ABC News and I’m looking forward to working with the leadership team as we forge a new path forward together,” OConnell wrote. “Thank you for your patience and understanding through this period of transition.”

Godwin joined ABC News in 2021 after a long career as an executive and producer at CBS News.

However, she was layered in February of this year, with the Disney veteran OConnell tasked with merging ABC News and the ABC TV stations business. Godwin had signed a new deal to remain at ABC News at that time, though the restructuring limited her authority somewhat.

Her tenure had faced some public challenges, perhaps most notably the suspension and ultimately the firing of GMA3 co-hosts Amy Robach an TJ Holmes last year. She had also been a target of grumbling from staff, though few national newsroom leaders have been spared from that in recent years.

On Saturday, the National Association of Black Journalists released a statement addressing some of the reports, writing that “there seems to be an intentionality to cite anonymous sources as Godwin’s detractors, coupled with the use of derogatory or stereotypical terms to describe her. Meanwhile, these reports are totally ignoring sources and facts that speak to Godwin having significant support inside the organization.”

The NABJ added that it planned to meet with ABC and Disney executives to discuss the matter.

Read OConnell’s and Godwin’s memos below.

NOTE FROM DEBRA OCONNELL TO HER TEAM:

Team,

I wanted to share Kim’s note below. Dana and I would like to take this opportunity to express our deepest gratitude to Kim for her service as president of ABC News. Kim has navigated this team through consequential times in our world, and she did so with respect for the brand and profession – and for that and more, we thank her.

Our reputation and credibility are hard earned, and we would also like to acknowledge the extraordinary work you deliver each day. As the No. 1 news network for 12 consecutive seasons and counting, ABC News is home to the best in the business. From morning through daytime, evening and beyond, this team stands ready 24/7 to serve our nation with the news, people and events that shape our world.

For the time being, I will oversee ABC News and I’m looking forward to working with the leadership team as we forge a new path forward together. Thank you for your patience and understanding through this period of transition. Since assuming this role in February, my goal has been – and will continue to be – to provide this team with the means necessary to build on our success and carry on the proud tradition of ABC News into a future full of opportunity and innovation.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me or your senior leaders.

Thank you,

Debra

KIM GODWIN NOTE TO ABC NEWS:

Good evening ABC News,

Forty years ago, I began my career fresh out of college as an eager and enthusiastic executive producer at WTXL in Tallahassee, where I was responsible for the 6 and 11 p.m. news. The staff was so small, on busy news days, I had to go out and report too. Little did I know then what extraordinary opportunities lay before me as I began to chart a path through a profession where very few women – and even fewer women of color – were in leadership roles. So, I understood and appreciated the profound significance of being the first Black woman to lead a national broadcast news network when I accepted the role as president of ABC News a little over three years ago. It’s both a privilege and a debt to those who chipped away at the ceiling before me to lead a team whose brand is synonymous with trust, integrity and a dogged determination to be the best in the business.

Now, four decades and countless miles later, having worked at all three broadcast news networks and 10 local stations in nine cities, I have come full circle from that small but mighty ABC affiliate in Florida’s panhandle. I have decided to retire from broadcast journalism. After matriculating through j-school at my beloved Florida A&M University, I have been fortunate and blessed enough to have done almost every job there is in this business, including anchor, investigative reporter, news director, field producer, network/special events executive producer and more before moving on to the executive ranks. Anyone who’s passionate about what we do knows there’s no other business like it, so this was not an easy or quick decision. But after considerable reflection, I’m certain it’s the right one for me as I look to the future and prioritize what’s most important for me and my family.

ABC News was No. 1 when I joined the team and I’m proud to say we’re still No. 1 – an achievement that’s been punctuated in recent months with the highest honors our profession has to offer, from the Edward R. Murrow Award for Overall Excellence in Television, to the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Award for our groundbreaking “Power of Water” series, to our first-ever Primetime Emmy Award nominations for “Pretty Baby: Brooke Shields” and “Aftershock.” And just last week, our Uvalde documentary, “Print It Black,” won Best Feature Documentary at the Dallas International Film Festival, where it premiered. I am particularly proud of our unprecedented Uvalde 365 project, an unparalleled yearlong commitment to documenting the emotional journey of a community after a mass shooting.

In 2022, we were all overjoyed to receive 41 Emmy nominations, the most in 53 years. We have the top morning news show, daytime network show, evening newscast and Friday news magazine. We’re consistently No. 1 in all major live TV events, including, most recently, “Eclipse Across America,” in partnership with Nat Geo. And our programs can regularly be found in the Top 10 on Hulu.

Beyond awards and ratings, our success is perhaps best measured in the people of ABC News. This is an exceptional team doing exceptional work – together. You are best in class in every category, and it’s been nothing short of awesome to see you tackle assignment after assignment, delivering comprehensive coverage from around the world to our viewers at a time when truthful reporting is essential to the future of our great nation.

We take pride in covering all communities and meeting our audiences where and when they need us, and no undertaking better exemplifies this than ABC News Live. When I started, it was the little streaming train that could; now, thanks to your hard work and dedication, it’s a big train that can – and does, every day. Together, on Hulu last season, we launched “Impact X Nightline,” a weekly news magazine whose episodes are regularly among the most watched content on the platform.

We should be especially proud of our success with ABC News Studios, which we built from the ground up to become what is now a premiere nonfiction and documentary studio, making more than 120 hours of award-winning content a year. We also established the first climate unit among the broadcast news networks. So many innovations and initiatives in what feels like the blink of an eye. Together, we committed to a cultural shift, where people could be their authentic selves, feeling seen and heard, while doing their best work. For all these reasons and more, I depart ABC News and this profession with the sincerest sense of pride, accomplishment and gratitude. My heart is filled.

I would like to thank Dana Walden and Debra OConnell for always ensuring we had the resources and support to do our jobs. And finally, thank you ABC News for the love, support and inspiration. Over the years, hundreds of you have sent emails, texts, and made phone calls that have lifted my heart. In this consequential election year, as we look to the months ahead, the importance of what we do cannot be overstated. Remember, there is joy in journalism.

I leave with my head held high and wish the entire team continued success.

#oneabcnews

In faith and favor,
Kim

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