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Kim Godwin, First Black President Of ABC News, Announces Retirement

Kim Godwin, First Black President Of ABC News, Announces Retirement
Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images

Kim Godwin, the first Black president of ABC News and “first Black woman to lead a network news division,” has announced she is retiring.

Over the course of her decades-long career, Godwin has worked “at ABC, CBS, NBC, and at 10 local news stations in nine cities.” In a memo sent to the ABC News newsroom on Sunday, Godwin wrote, “I have decided to retire from broadcast journalism.”

“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,” said Godwin.

“I have been fortunate and blessed enough to have done almost every job there is in this business,” 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.”

“I leave with my head held high and wish the entire team continued success,” added Godwin.

On X (formerly Twitter), the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) posted, “The #NABJ family celebrates the historic and transformative impact of longtime NABJ member& supporter Kim Godwin, ABC News President, as she announces her retirement.”

Godwin’s departure occurred two months after Disney, the parent company of ABC, “appointed a veteran executive in a newly created role just above her to oversee the news division, essentially stripping Godwin of oversight over ABC News,” The Washington Post reports. In addition, Godwin had just signed an extension to her contract as network president around the exact same time.

Many were shocked over this sudden departure, because when Godwin made the announcement about her new contract, she did not offer up any hints about leaving. “There is more work to be done…Now let’s get to it,” Godwin wrote at the time.

The newly-minted executive appointed by Disney Debra OConnell offered up praise for Godwin in a separate memo sent on Sunday, writing “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.” In the interim, OConnell will be heading up ABC News.

While some news outlets, like CNN, have reported that morale at the network was down with Godwin as a leader, it is important to recognize that Godwin’s appointment “followed several internal controversies,” within the network.

Unfortunately, this “glass cliff” phenomenon happens far too often with Black women. As CNN has noted, “Experts and advocates for women of color say Black women are often hired or promoted to leadership roles at companies at times of crisis with the expectation being that they will fix the issues. The task, experts say, can be so daunting that it quickly leads to burnout or even failure…Research shows that women and people of color are more likely to be appointed to poorly performing companies than white males.”

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