News surfaced last week that Godwin was being tapped for the role.
Godwin will have oversight over editorial and business operations for broadcast, digital, streaming and audio news.
She will succeed James Goldston, who departed on March 31. She also will be the first African American woman to lead a broadcast network news division.
Godwin, who will join ABC News in May, as details were worked out to let her out of her contract at CBS News.
She’s currently CBS News executive vice president of news, her latest title after joining the network in 2007. She also served as executive director for development and diversity, and senior broadcast producer of the CBS Evening News. More recently, she helped develop the CBS News Race & Culture Unit and CBS Village, with a focus on spotlighting diverse groups. Before CBS, Godwin held senior leadership positions at WCBS-TV in New York City; KNBC-TV in Los Angeles; the NBC Television Stations; KXAS-TV in Dallas/Fort Worth; and WOIO/WUAB in Cleveland.
Peter Rice, the chairman of Disney General Entertainment Content, led the search for Goldston’s successor, with a number of names said to be considered throughout the news business.
Godwin also is joining ABC News at a time when all of the broadcast networks are seeing changes at their top ranks. Andrew Lack departed his post as chairman of NBC News and MSNBC last year, with Cesar Conde succeeding him in a newly reorganized position that also includes oversight of CNBC. CBS News also is looking for a successor to Susan Zirinsky, who plans to step down after just over two years and return to producing.
In a statement, Rice said, “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.”
Godwin said, “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.
She joins ABC News at a time when two of their signature programs, World News Tonight with David Muir and Good Morning America, are top in the ratings in their time periods. But there has been some fallout at the network over the case of Barbara Fedida, a top news executive who left last year after an investigation into complaints that she made racially insensitive remarks, first reported in HuffPost by Yashar Ali. There also was a dicey recent talent situation as Muir was given responsibility for anchoring live event and breaking news coverage, duties that had previously been those of George Stephanopoulos. Disney executive chairman Bob Iger was said to have been brought in to act as a broker, resulting in an extended contract for Stephanopoulos.
In addition to diversifying the staff, Godwin’s challenges will include mapping a way forward for the news division in the streaming era, with competition not just from cable but all sort of niche channels.
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