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Sonya McNair named head of communications for CBS News

With the departure last week of Jeff Ballabon as CBS News communications SVP, his #2 in the unit, Sonya McNair gets the top job. McNair will oversee all media and talent relations, as well as public affairs for CBS News, including strategic planning, day-to-day publicity, internal and external communications.

McNair has worked in public relations roles at TIME Inc., The New Yorker, Fox Broadcasting and spent 16 years ABC News. She joined CBS News in 2009.

Release after the jump…

Sonya McNair has been named the new head of communications for CBS News. The announcement was made today by Jeff Fager, Chairman, CBS News, and Gil Schwartz, Executive Vice President and Chief Communications Officer, CBS Corporation. Her appointment is effective immediately.

McNair will oversee all media and talent relations, as well as public affairs for CBS News, including strategic planning, day-to-day publicity, internal and external communications. She will also provide oversight of communications for CBS Radio News, CBSNews.com and the CBS News Polling & Survey Unit. She will report to both Fager and Schwartz.

“Sonya is a real pro with extensive experience and great talent,” said Fager. “It’s an exciting time at CBS News and I’m thrilled that she will be a big part of it.”

“Sonya has proven time and again that she embodies grace under fire,” said Schwartz. “She is an extremely highly regarded media relations professional with demonstrated leadership skills and drive. I look forward to the contributions she will make during this time of change and opportunity for CBS News.”

McNair joined CBS News as a consultant in March 2009 and she was appointed Vice President in May of that year. She directed media relations and publicity for the CBS News Division and oversaw the daily communications strategy for a wide range of CBS News broadcasts and platforms.

Previously, McNair was Spokesperson and Director of Public Relations for The New Yorker, where she directed press affairs and public relations strategies for the magazine, and designed media campaigns for special events, including “The New Yorker Festival.”

Prior to her time at The New Yorker, McNair was Vice President of Corporate Communications for Time Inc.’s Essence Communications Inc. and was responsible for the communications of corporate units, including ESSENCE magazine, Essence Books and “The Essence Music Festival.” She designed the promotions effort that garnered Advertising Age’s 2003 A-List ranking, a first in the 34-year history of the magazine. Additionally, McNair developed the launch strategy for Time Inc.’s fashion magazine, Suede, which earned critical acclaim from The New York Times, Italian Vogue and Ad Age’s 2004 One-to-Watch.

Formerly, McNair held the position of Vice President of Publicity and Corporate Communications for the Fox Broadcasting Company, and oversaw East Coast media relations for the network. She also handled communications for corporate affairs and business related matters. Prior to that, she spent 16 years at ABC News and held several increasingly responsible positions at the network, which included Spokesperson for the network’s news division and Director of Media Relations, where she oversaw media relations for the New York-based shows and provided public relations counsel to Diane Sawyer, Charles Gibson, David Brinkley and others. Additionally, she managed the publicity surrounding the launch of ABCNews.com.

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