Kimberly Godwin, a broadcast news executive with nearly three decades of experience, is in advanced discussions to join the Walt Disney Company as the head of ABC’s news division, according to multiple reports.
The news comes less than one week after executives at ViacomCBS said Godwin would temporarily oversee news initiatives at local CBS stations after the firing of David Friend, the company’s former senior vice president for local news.
Weeks ago, Godwin was made an offer to leave CBS — her home for more than 15 years — for the top news executive position at Disney, according to sources.
While negotiating the position with Disney, Godwin approached her bosses at ViacomCBS with a request to be allowed to exit out of her current contract. The request was approved a few days ago, a source familiar with the matter told the trade publication Variety.
Godwin is now finalizing her contract with Disney, and an announcement could be made as soon as early next week. She would be the first Black executive to lead a major broadcast network news division in the United States, and one of the few Black television executives in the industry as a whole.
Godwin has a strong broadcast news background, starting with various producer and news director positions with NBC’s owned-and-operated stations WCAU-TV (Channel 10) in Philadelphia in the early 1990s.
She later became the news director of WOIO-TV (Channel 19), the CBS affiliate in Cleveland, before returning to NBC as a newsroom executive at the network’s owned-and-operated station in Los Angeles, WNBC-TV (Channel 4).
Godwin put her broadcast news career on hold to become a professor of media ethics at Florida A&M University, where she later became the director of the school’s journalism division.
Less than two years after joining Florida A&M, she transitioned back into broadcast news, landing a spot at CBS-owned WCBS-TV (Channel 2) in New York, where she worked as the interim and assistant news director for two years.
CBS would become her long-term home, with Godwin eventually moving over to the network, where she started as a senior producer for news in 2007 before being elevated to the role of vice president of news and executive director for development and diversity 10 years later.
In 2019, she was promoted to the position of executive vice president for news where she oversaw much of the network’s broadcast and digital news output, including programs that stream on the country’s first 24-hour, Internet-based news network CBSN.
At Disney, Godwin would likely assume similar responsibilities, overseeing the network’s broadcast and streaming news operations, including the recently-formed ABC News Live, which is distributed on YouTube, YouTube TV, Xumo and Samsung TV Plus.