UPDATE: Here is a video of Disney/ABC TV Group president Anne Sweeney introducing new ABC News president Ben Sherwood to the ABC News staff:

PREVIOUS: Exactly 3 months after longtime ABC News president David Westin announced he would be stepping down at the end of December and following an exhaustive search, Disney/ABC Television Group president Anne Sweeney this morning named former Good Morning America executive producer and The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud author Ben Sherwood as his successor. Here are ABC’s release and Sweeney’s email to the ABC News staff:

New York — Friday, December 3, 2010 – Ben Sherwood, an award-winning journalist, bestselling author and digital media entrepreneur, has been named as the new president of ABC News, it was announced today by Anne Sweeney, co-chair, Disney Media Networks and president, Disney/ABC Television Group, to whom he will report.  In this position, Mr. Sherwood will be responsible for all editorial, programming and digital aspects of our global news business encompassing all ABC News programs on the ABC Television Network, ABC News Radio, ABC News.com and ABC News NOW.

In making the announcement, Sweeney stated, “Ben’s proven success in the news business, along with his entrepreneurial spirit, creativity, and keen intellect make him the ideal choice to lead ABC News into the future.  His previous tenure at ABC led to the most successful seasons in GMA’s history, and his success as a bestselling author and digital entrepreneur demonstrate a unique skill set that is as valuable as it is diverse.”

Sherwood said, “It’s a great honor and privilege to be asked to lead this amazing news organization and I am humbled by the opportunity.  For more than 20 years, I’ve known firsthand of the passion, excellence and integrity of the people who work for ABC News. I am thrilled to be coming back home, and look forward to harnessing our innovation and creativity to build on our great history of success.”

Sherwood began to explore a career in journalism with student internships at KCET public television in Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Times Washington Bureau, and the CBS Evening News in New York.  In 1984-1985, during a year off from college, Sherwood worked for The News and Observer in Raleigh, North Carolina; the Los Angeles Times Paris bureau and the United Nations Border Relief Operation in Aranyaprathet, Thailand.

He launched his career in earnest when he joined ABC News in 1989, serving as an investigative associate producer and producer for ABC News’ PrimeTime Live with hosts Diane Sawyer and Sam Donaldson. During that time his investigative reports explored flaws in the secretive B-2 stealth bomber program; the dangers of unlicensed mental health practitioners; and the unheralded risks of an overprescribed heart medication.

In 1997, Sherwood joined NBC’s Nightly News with Tom Brokaw as broadcast producer responsible for “In Depth” reports, then senior producer, and ultimately senior broadcast producer, where he helped guide coverage of the September 11th attacks and the highly contested Florida results from the 2000 Presidential election.

Sherwood returned to ABC News in April 2004 as executive producer of the network’s award-winning morning program, Good Morning America. During his tenure with the network, Mr. Sherwood guided GMA to the two most successful seasons in its history, while overseeing prize-winning coverage of the tsunami in Southeast Asia, the devastation of hurricane Katrina, and the 2004 presidential election.

Ben Sherwood is also the author of two critically acclaimed best-selling novels: The Man Who Ate the 747 (2000) and The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud (2004). His fiction has been published around the world in 15 languages. In 1996, he published his first novel, Red Mercury, a techno-thriller, under the pseudonym Max Barclay. In July 2010, The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud was adapted as a feature film starring Zac Efron that was released by Universal Pictures under the title “Charlie St. Cloud.” The Man Who Ate the 747 is also being developed as a major motion picture and Broadway musical.

I am immensely pleased to announce that Ben Sherwood has been named our new President of ABC News, responsible for all aspects of our global news business including editorial, programming, digital and other business related aspects of the division. Those of you who worked with Ben during his previous tenures at ABC News on PrimeTime and Good Morning America know him to be the quintessential journalist, with the integrity and innovative spirit that defines ABC News. During his stellar career, he’s served as investigative journalist, associate producer, producer, senior broadcast producer and executive producer, who helped guide award-winning coverage of the biggest stories of the day, including the attacks of September 11th, the controversial 2000 election, the tsunami in Southeast Asia, and hurricane Katrina.

The press release announcing his appointment and detailing his remarkable career as an award-winning journalist, widely published essayist, best-selling author and digital media entrepreneur is attached. I’m sure you’ll agree Ben is the absolute best choice to lead this best-in-class news organization into the next phase of success.

As we make this transition I want to thank each of you for your dedication, hard work, and patience. I know the uncertainty during this search was challenging in many ways, and I appreciate your support and your unwavering commitment to excellence throughout the process. Ben’s leadership backed by your talent ensures we’re prepared for even greater success.

Please join me in welcoming Ben Sherwood back to ABC News.