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Another news executive departs NewsNation, exposing further rifts at Nexstar’s news channel

Jennifer Lyons, a former Nexstar executive, as she appeared in a documentary on the makings of “NewsNation.” (Image via YouTube/Graphic by The Desk)

Nexstar Media Group’s vice president of news and NewsNation is the latest person to depart the company over a growing rift between broadcast executives and newsroom journalists concerning the direction of the cable news experiment.

Jennifer Lyons was a long-time broadcast journalist who oversaw newsroom operations at WGN-TV (Channel 9), a local news powerhouse in Chicago that came under the control of Nexstar through its acquisition of Tribune Media several years ago.

When Nexstar laid plans to launch a prime-time news block on its national cable news channel WGN America, Lyons was convinced to join the project — and agreed to stay, even as some newsroom staffers at the newly-launched “NewsNation” expressed concerns that the programming block was straying from its promised middle-of-the-road news agenda in order to cater to conservative viewers.

After two NewsNation executives quit, Lyons reportedly told staffers that she was “fighting for you guys.” That fight ran out earlier this week, with Nexstar’s chief executive Perry Sook announcing her departure in a newsroom-wide email. The e-mail was first reported by Chicago media columnist Robert Feder on Tuesday.

A Nexstar Media Group spokesperson also confirmed her departure, saying Lyons “has decided to leave her position as vice president of news at NewsNation.”

“We thank her for her efforts in spearheading the launch of NewsNation, and we wish her success in whatever she does next,” the spokesperson said, adding that the company had started a search for her replacement.

Under Lyons, NewsNation launched to much fanfare, even pulling in a decent 330,000 households on its first broadcast. Since then, the programming block has struggled to attract much attention.

Earlier this month, Nexstar attempted to capture viewers by relaunching WGN America under the NewsNation brand and modifying its prime-time lineup to include a new conversation show hosted by journalist Ashleigh Banfield and a current affairs program hosted by former Portland news anchor Joe Donlon. The shake-ups have yet to yield results.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).