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Disney Names Ben Sherwood to Be President of ABC News

Ben Sherwood, newly named president of ABC News Inc., addresses the staff at ABC News headquarters in New York. Photographer: Ida Mae Astute/ABC News Inc. via Bloomberg
Ben Sherwood, newly named president of ABC News Inc., addresses the staff at ABC News headquarters in New York. Photographer: Ida Mae Astute/ABC News Inc. via Bloomberg

Dec. 3 (Bloomberg) -- Walt Disney Co. named Ben Sherwood president of ABC News to replace David Westin, who announced in September he would step down at the end of the year.

Sherwood, 46, will oversee editorial, programming and digital operations at ABC’s global news business, including broadcast TV, radio and the Internet, Burbank, California-based Disney said today in an e-mailed statement. He will report to Anne Sweeney, president of the Disney/ABC Television Group.

Disney cited Sherwood’s entrepreneurial background. In addition to working previously at ABC and NBC news, Sherwood is a novelist whose works include “The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud,” which became a film. In 2009, he founded TheSurvivorsClub.org for people coping with disaster.

“They need more people who are conversant with new media, social media and the blogosphere,” Hal Vogel, an independent media analyst in New York, said in an interview today. “They need to be able to reach a different demographic who has a very different view of how the world works.”

Disney, the world’s biggest media company, gained 7 cents to $37.41 at 3:12 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The shares had gained 16 percent this year before today.

ABC announced a restructuring of the news workforce in February, increasing its reliance on freelance journalists and requiring staffers shoot and edit more of their own material. In December 2009, Diane Sawyer replaced Charles Gibson as anchor of ABC’s “World News.”

‘Good Morning America’

Sherwood, a graduate of Harvard College and a Rhodes Scholar, began his journalism career with internships at KCET in Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Times Washington bureau and “CBS Evening News” in New York, Disney said.

He joined ABC News in 1989, working at “PrimeTime Live” until 1997, when he was hired by NBC’s “Nightly News with Tom Brokaw.” Sherwood returned to ABC in April 2004 as executive producer of “Good Morning America.”

Sherwood is married to Karen Kehela, an executive producer of movies including “A Beautiful Mind” and co-chair of Brian Grazer’s Imagine Entertainment in Beverly Hills, California, according to Amazon.com Inc.’s Imdb.com.

ABC News is averaging 7.3 million viewers for its evening telecast in the TV season that began in September, according to Nielsen Co. That compares with 8.4 million at NBC and 5.7 million for CBS.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andy Fixmer in Los Angeles at afixmer@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at apalazzo@bloomberg.net

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