Kim Godwin is out as ABC News president

Kim Godwin, who made history as the first Black woman to run a broadcast TV news division, is leaving ABC News after a turbulent three-year run.

The Walt Disney Co.-owned network announced Godwin’s departure Sunday in a memo from Debra OConnell, president of News Group and Networks. Godwin joined ABC in May 2021 from CBS News, where she was an executive vice president and oversaw its diversity efforts.

OConnell said she will oversee the news division “for the time being.”

Godwin signed a new deal with ABC in February, when the company put her division under OConnell, a veteran Disney executive. The move put a layer between Godwin and top leadership at Disney, never a good sign for an executive’s future at the Burbank-based entertainment company. She had been reporting to Dana Walden, co-chairman of Disney Entertainment.

“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,” Godwin said in a note to staff that was shared with The Times. “It’s both a privilege and a debt to those who chipped away before me to lead a team whose brand is synonymous with trust, integrity and a dogged determination to be the best in the business.”

Godwin was hired 10 months after the dismissal of Barbara Fedida, longtime top executive in charge of business affairs. An internal investigation found that Fedida made what Disney called “racially insensitive comments” about the network’s Black talent. Godwin’s predecessor James Goldston, who was not implicated in the investigation, left his post as ABC News president six months after Fedida’s exit.

Godwin was brought in to improve the culture at the division. But she was beleaguered by whispered criticism from anonymous sources of her management style, which grated on the hard-nosed veterans at the network. She reportedly led “Happy Birthday” singalongs at morning meetings and emphasized life-work balance, a foreign concept to many longtimers in a division known for its cutthroat atmosphere. Godwin was also described as detached from the division’s day-to-day operations.

As part of a wave of Disney job reductions last year, Godwin made sweeping cuts in the division. Some staffers were unhappy at the treatment of veteran executives who were pushed out the door.

But Godwin might have survived any issues with her management style if ABC News programs maintained their competitive positions over the past year. “Good Morning America,” the most watched morning program and the source of most of the news division’s profit, has been losing ground.

NBC’s “Today” scored an atypical weekly win over “GMA” in morning viewers last month, according to Nielsen. It was the first time in two years the program has won outside of the weeks when NBC is carrying the Olympics, or during the holiday season when viewers tune in to see the Rockefeller Plaza Christmas tree.

“Today” regularly beats “GMA” in the 25-to-54 age group advertisers prefer when buying news programming. But “CBS Mornings,” which runs third overall, has occasionally topped “GMA” in the demographic on some days as well.

“GMA” may have suffered from personnel moves that happened on Godwin’s watch. Amy Robach and T.J. Holmes, who co-hosted the afternoon show “GMA 3,” were fired last year after the tabloids exposed a romantic relationship between the two. Both were married at the time.

Robach and Holmes were frequent fill-ins on the flagship edition of “GMA,” co-anchored by George Stephanopoulos, Robin Roberts and Michael Strahan. Morning viewing is habit driven, and the departure of talent — even extended family members of a program — can be disruptive.

ABC also lost Cecilia Vega, another frequent “GMA” fill-in, to CBS, which made her a correspondent at “60 Minutes.”

Adding to the tumult, ABC News lost another veteran talent last week when meteorologist Rob Marciano was fired over alleged behavioral issues in the workplace.

Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top