by Robin Kemp

Kimberly Godwin, a longtime executive with CBS News, is the new number-one at ABC News. She’s also got a Clayton County connection–Godwin, a graduate of Florida A&M University, is married to Derrick Manning, principal of Forest Park High School.

Godwin takes the helm in May as the first Black woman president of a major broadcast news network. The National Association of Black Journalists says Godwin is”not only the first Black executive and first Black woman to head ABC News as its president but also the first Black executive and Black woman to head a broadcast network news operation.” In November 2020, Rashida Jones was named president of MSNBC, making her the first Black president of a major cable news channel.

Godwin told NABJ, “The significance of this appointment is not lost on me,” Godwin said. “I stand on the shoulders of giants in journalism who paved the way as members of NABJ. I was mentored by many in this organization and have therefore made it my business to mentor many as I’ve come along. I’m looking forward to joining the extraordinary team at ABC News and excited about what we can accomplish together.”

In a prepared statement for ABC News, she added, “I have immense respect and admiration for ABC News. 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. I am honored to take on this stewardship and excited for what we will achieve together.”

ABC says Godwin will be in charge of editorial and business operations for broadcast, digital, streaming, and audio news. Her portfolio will include “Good Morning America,” “World News Tonight with David Muir,” “20/20,” “Nightline,” “This Week,” “The View,” ABC News Live, and FiveThirtyEight. ABC is owned by Disney.

At CBS, Godwin was executive vice president of news, having worked her way up management from her 2007 position as “CBS Evening News” senior broadcast producer, CBS News executive director for development and diversity, and vice president of news.

In addition, Godwin has served as interim director of journalism and adjunct professor at FAMU’s School of Journalism and Graphic Communication, where the chairs the school’s Board of Visitors. FAMU was the first HBCU with an accredited journalism program.

Godwin has run newsrooms all over the country and racked up a slew of awards for her work:

She has held leadership roles as:

  • acting news director and assistant news director, WCBS-TV, New York, NY
  • vice president and news director, KNBC-TV, Los Angeles, CA
  • vice president of News Operations, NBC Television Stations
  • vice president and news director at KXAS-TV, Dallas/Fort Worth, TX
  • news director at WOIO/WUAB, Cleveland OH
  • CBS News Race and Culture Unit
  • CBS Village multiplatform unit for diverse groups
  • co-executive producer of the 2020 documentary “John Lewis: Celebrating A Hero”

Peter Rice, chairman of Disney General Entertainment Content and Godwin’s new boss, said, “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. Throughout Kim’s career in global news organizations and local newsrooms, she has distinguished herself as a fierce advocate for excellence, collaboration, inclusion and the vital role of accurate and transparent news reporting.”

NABJ Vice President-Broadcast Ken Lemon said Godwin’s appointment “opens the door for diversity at a higher level.”

“This historic announcement shows what we at NABJ have always known: there are Black executives more than capable of taking the reins of a network operation,” he said. “We hope this move sends a clear signal to other networks….The glass ceiling is broken and must be shattered.”

Read this 2018 interview with Godwin in Black Enterprise for more about how she got to where she is today.

If you want to study journalism at FAMU, here are the scholarship application requirements. While applications closed in March, you can get a head start on getting your experience and portfolio together for next year. The Clayton Crescent is working on some journalism opportunities for area high school and college students and will announce these soon.

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