ABC News has hired Kim Godwin, an executive from rival television network CBS News, to serve as its next president. She will begin the role in May, replacing James Goldston, who left ABC last month.
“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 said in a statement on Wednesday. Rice is chairman of general entertainment content for ABC’s parent company, Disney.
He added that Godwin “has distinguished herself as a fierce advocate for excellence, collaboration, inclusion and the vital role of accurate and transparent news reporting.”
Godwin had worked at CBS News since 2007. She started as a senior producer for its evening news show, which at the time was anchored by Katie Couric. She was eventually put in charge of global newsgathering as the network’s executive vice president of news.
Her company biography credits her with “overseeing the launch of the reimagined ‘CBS Evening News With Norah O’Donnell,’ ” in 2019. The show has enjoyed larger viewership since then, but still trails the evening news competition on NBC and ABC by several million total viewers, according to the latest audience numbers.
Godwin also served as executive director for development and diversity at CBS, focusing on efforts to increase the recruiting of minority candidates. The National Association of Black Journalists gave Godwin its Ida B. Wells Award last fall, and praised her “for her work to create a diverse newsroom, and her focus on identifying — and advocating for — young journalists throughout their careers.”
Godwin worked under CBS News President Susan Zirinsky, who is the first woman to run that division. Women also run two of the three biggest cable news channels — Suzanne Scott at Fox News, and Rashida Jones at MSNBC, a Black woman who was tapped to replace former president Phil Griffin in February.
“I have immense respect and admiration for ABC News,” Godwin said in a statement Wednesday. “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.”
She will replace Goldston, who held the top job since 2014, and announced this year that he would leave the network for an unspecified “new adventure.”
In his departing memo to staff in March, Goldston praised the work of ABC News journalists in combating what he called an “info-demic” of false and misleading information. “As I step away from leading ABC News, I remain optimistic that with your hard work and diligence and dedication, the great journalists here will help defeat this scourge of misinformation,” he wrote.
Goldston’s tenure was marked by big audience numbers for shows like the flagship evening broadcast “World News Tonight,” hosted by David Muir. But he also ran into some management and journalistic controversies.
ABC News executive Barbara Fedida left the company last summer after an investigation allegedly found that she had made “unacceptable racially insensitive comments” during her time at the network.
Two years earlier, investigative journalist Brian Ross left ABC News after an inaccurate report about the timing of conversations between President Donald Trump and Michael Flynn, who briefly served as his national security adviser, regarding contact with Russian emissaries and what he would be willing to testify to.