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Posts Tagged ‘David Westin’

Major Media Companies Unite to Launch NewsRight

Yesterday, 29 media companies including The Associated Press, The New York Times Company, and Hearst announced the launch of NewsRight. The venture is described as “an independent digital rights and content licensing organization.”

Headed by former ABC news president, David Westin, NewsRight has been in development for a few years under different names including News Registry, a property spearheaded by the AP.

“More news is available more ways than ever in history. But if reliable information is to continue to flourish, the companies investing in creating content need efficient ways to license it as broadly as possible,” said Westin. “NewsRight’s mission is to make sure consumers continue to benefit from the all the original news reporting they want while ensuring those who republish content do so with integrity. ”

In a nutshell, the service makes it easier for media outlets to license news content from the roster of NewsRight companies and in turn, provide both licensees and licensors with analytics regarding the use of content.

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ABC News Chief David Westin Stepping Down


David Westin, who guided ABC News through a tumultous 13-year period, told staffers on Monday that he will retire by the end of the year.

Westin took over for legendary executive Roone Arledge in 1997. Since that time, Westin had to deal with the sudden death of longtime World News Tonight anchor Peter Jennings.

In 2006, Westin named Bob Woodruff and Elizabeth Vargas co-anchors of the evening broadcast. Less than a month later, however, Woodruff was seriously injured covering the war in Iraq.

TVNewser has much more on Westin’s decision to leave ABC News.

Charlie Gibson Retires, Diane Sawyer To Take Over “World News”

bigthree_9.2.jpgThere will be a big change at one network’s evening news desk starting next year.

ABC News announced today that Charles Gibson, who has anchored the news channel’s “World News” nightly newscast since May 2006, will be stepping down from his post at the end of the year and retiring from full-time work. Diane Sawyer, who currently co-anchors “Good Morning America,” will step into Gibson’s seat, making her the nation’s second female nightly news anchor along with Katie Couric.

As the story developed this morning, our colleagues at FishbowlDC obtained an email sent by Gibson today. He explained his decision to leave in part:

“It had been my intention to step down from my job at ‘Good Morning America’ in 2007 but with Peter’s illness, Bob’s injuries, and Elizabeth’s pregnancy, the job at ‘World News’ came open in May of 2006, and [ABC News President David Westin] asked me to step in as anchor. It was an honor to do so. The program is now operating at a very accelerated, but steady, cruising speed, and I think it is an opportune time for a transition — both for the broadcast and for me. Life is dynamic; it is not static.”

As Gibson prepares to depart, TVNewser took a look at the ratings since he took over the anchor desk. During his run, Gibson managed to keep his NBC News rival Brian Williams on his toes. With Gibson in the anchor chair, “World News” became the number 1 evening news broadcast by March 2007, although “NBC Nightly News” reclaimed its title in 2008.

The Media World Cancels Christmas!

1951-xmas-humbug-scrooge.jpgKidding. Technically the only person that can cancel Christmas is Rupert Murdoch, but the media world can certainly cancel all of its holiday parties and thus far that’s precisely what seems to be happening. Last week came word that Hearst had pulled the plug on its company-wide holiday party. Now, according to the NYO, ABC News has undertaken similar measures (and then some! No more magazine subscriptions!). Per the email the ABC head David Westin sent out to staff:

  • We’ll forego all holiday parties this year. This means that the company parties in LA, NY and DC are cancelled.

  • All executives are asked to fly one grade below what they’re entitled to. Some have contractual provisions on air travel, and the company is not breaching any contracts. But we are being asked to use our discretion on this.
  • All executives are asked to stay in “B” level hotels. I’m told that Travel knows what this means.
  • Starting immediately, the only business meals for which we will be reimbursed are those with third parties. Any meals (or drinks) with ABC or Disney employees will not be reimbursed.

The Observer has the full humbuggy memo here.

Lisa Fletcher named ABC News correspondent

Fletcher.jpg L.A.’s newest TV news correspondent, Lisa Fletcher, has an impressive-enough sounding resume – Emmys, AP awards, stories that locked up child molesters. But we’re guessing the alphabet network gave Fletcher her new gig because it felt awful for making her identify herself as a member of the Phoenix investigative team known as ABC15 iNVESTiGATORS.

iNVESTiGATORS? FBLA wonders if the reporters had to dress up like University of Florida mascots. Either way, congratulations, Lisa.

For more, here’s the press release:

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Breaking: ABC News To Axe 35 Staffers In Restructuring

abc_layoffs_062207.jpgWe just received this tip:

ABC News being restructured … 35 positions expected to be lost.

UPDATE: Memo from ABC News president David Westin:

From: Westin, David
Sent: Friday, June 22, 2007 11:15 AM
Cc: Sweeney, Anne
Subject: The Future

We regularly take a strategic look at where ABC News stands, where we are going, and what resources we will need to get there. How can we make sure we are doing what we do best — report the news — and do it even better? What can we do that we haven’t been doing? And, given all the changes around us, what can we do without? Every healthy organization asks itself some form of these questions.

So, we’ve begun a two-year process to take a fresh look at ABC News from top to bottom. We’ve enlisted all of senior management and all of the executive producers and others who run our platforms in this effort. In everything we consider and everything we do, we will have three principal goals. First and foremost to maintain and enhance the reputation of ABC News for its unparalleled reporting. Second, to maintain and build wherever possible on the strengths of our broadcasts. And third, to re-design the division to reflect the growing importance of our digital offerings — and their centrality to our future.

What will this all mean? It will mean that we will be adding people and resources in some places — particularly in our digital world. We will also be looking at smart ways to increase our newsgathering, particularly overseas. We’ve already posted new openings for India, Australia, Iran, and Brazil and are in the process of interviewing candidates. It also means that we will be looking closely at areas where, because of technology or because of changes in our competitive environment, we can trim. We will be consolidating some operations, we will be asking some of you to take new assignments, and, yes, some positions will be lost where that makes sense.

Some of you may wonder why we’re considering fundamental changes at a time when the news division is enjoying such hard-earned success.

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ABC News Journos Killed In Iraq

A cameraman and soundman for ABC News were killed in Iraq yesterday, ABC News has confirmed. Alaa Uldeen Aziz, 33, and soundman Saif Laith Yousuf, 26, were returning home from work at the ABC News Baghdad bureau when their car was reportedly ambushed and they were killed by unknown assailants.

David Westin‘s sent a memo to ABC News staffers announcing the news this morning:

From: Westin, David
Sent: Friday, May 18, 2007 5:15 AM
Subject: Our Baghdad Colleagues

Early this morning, we learned of the death of two of our Iraqi colleagues, cameraman Alaa Uldeen Aziz and soundman Saif Laith Yousuf. They were returning home from work in our Baghdad Bureau yesterday afternoon when we believe that their car was ambushed and they were killed by unknown assailants. Alaa is survived by his wife, his two daughters, and his mother; Saif leaves behind his fiancée, his mother, and his brothers and sisters. Our hearts go out to their families and friends. They will be deeply missed by their colleagues in Baghdad and by all of us in the ABC News family. To Relaunch This Weekend

Above, the mock-up. Below, ABC News president David Westin‘s memo to staff:

From: Westin, David
Sent: Thursday, April 26, 2007 9:57 AM

Next week we unveil a new version of This is the first stage of an overall redesign that will ultimately transform the site into a news and information website that will be boldly different — both from what it has been before and from what other, similar sites offer. The new version will be simpler, easier to use, and will feature video more prominently than what we’ve had until now. is all about our reporting — both on the Internet and on our broadcasts — and that will remain true. One of the important goals for the new is to use the power of the community created on the Internet to take that reporting to new levels. We will actively seek participation by those with something factual to add. We will solicit from our Internet users the questions they want answered by those in positions of power and knowledge.

All of this will complement what we are increasingly providing on the “Be Seen and Be Heard” component of ABC News Now — available on digital cable, broadband, and mobile devices for those who subscribe.

Well before our enhancements to, it has shown exponential growth. In March alone, the site garnered 150 million page views, marking a 22% increase in page views from the previous month. Additionally, the site saw a 13% year-over-year growth in unique users to 11.5 million.

The new is the product of a lot of hard work, and I thank everyone involved.

We hope that you will find the new to be a substantial step forward. Improving the site together is an ongoing process, and we encourage your comments through the message boards we’ve created for your feedback.

Where Amanda Congdon fits into the relaunch remains to be seen. She is, after all, not a journalist.

Woodruff: ‘I’m Not Going Back To Iraq’


We heard the same story a few weeks ago at ABC HQ, with one key difference.

Bob Woodruff, while receiving a Leonard Zeidenberg First Amendment Award from the Radio-Television News Directors Foundation yesterday, said he will not go back to Iraq:

“I think for the first time I’m going to tell my wife I’m not going to go back to Iraq, at least for now.”

When we spoke with Woodruff and ABC News chief David Westin two weeks ago during a screening of To Iraq And Back, the documentary of his recovery from wounds suffered in a tank blast last January, Woodruff wouldn’t rule out the possibility of a return. Westin, though, said ABC would not send Woodruff back. “He’s more vulnerable [now]. It would be the height of recklessness for ABC News to allow Bob Woodruff to go to Iraq. It’s insane.”

Woddruff shared the award with Kimberly Dozier, the CBS News reporter seriously wounded in Iraq last May, who said she does plan to return: “To all of you in Iraq, Iraqis and the international corp, I hope to join you — not right away — but sometime soon.”


  • Bob Woodruff: ‘I Saw My Body Floating’
  • News War: The LA Times vs. Tribune and Readers Lose


    KCET broadcast Frontline’s series News War last night, as counter programming for American Idol, never guessing that someone could actually want to watch both. This episode, What’s Happening to the News, which examimes the struggles of the LA Times, will repeat this Friday and the website has the whole series.

    The producers interviewed all the right people for the series, and all but five of them are men.

    In this episode, Amanda Congdon is presented twice–once in her Rocketboom days, and now as the fresh new face on She even gets an extended section on the website–the only woman with such a segment. (Maybe she’s supposed to help David Westin get a reasonable return.) Other than a woman in the LAT’s Baghdad bureau (in a burkha!) and Lauren Rich Fine from Merrill Lynch, women aren’t talking about the news business. And judging by the credits, women aren’t working in it either, at least not on this episode. (The first two episodes were written, produced, and directed by Raney Aronson-Rath.)

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