The new president of ABC News is Ben Sherwood, the former "Good Morning America" executive producer and bestselling author of "The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud," the network announced Friday.
Sherwood left "GMA" in 2006, and was previously a senior producer on the “NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw.” He takes over for David Westin, who announced his resignation in September pending a replacement being named.
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The transition comes in the same week as another major network news change: CBS' low-rated "Early Show" announced Tuesday that it would eject anchors Maggie Rodriguez and Harry Smith — who joined the show in 2002 — and replace them with the Saturday crew of Chris Wragge and Erica Hill in January.
Sherwood's return again puts someone with a hard news background in charge of ABC News. Westin was a corporate lawyer with little news background when he took over in March 1997 from Roone Arledge. But he guided the network through several crises, including the sudden death of anchor Peter Jennings and the severe injuries to his replacement, Bob Woodruff, in a bombing in Iraq.
He also presided over tough economic times: the network struggling more than other news organizations because it has no cable news outlet. About 350 staffers were laid off in a round of layoffs that ended in April.
Sherwood is responsible for all aspects of ABC News, including “World News Tonight with Diane Sawyer,” “Nightline,” “Good Morning America,” “20/20,” “Primetime” and “This Week with Christiane Amanpour,” as well as ABC News Radio, ABCNEWS.com, ABC News’ satellite service, NewsOne and ABC News NOW.
Sherwood joined ABC's "PrimeTime Live" in 1989 as an investigative associate producer in 1989, and in 1994 joined NBC’s "Nightly News with Tom Brokaw" as a broadcast producer. He rose to senior broadcast producer and covered the Sept. 11 attacks and the Florida voting in the 2000 presidential election.
He became executive producer of "GMA" in 2004, overseeing coverage of the tsunami in Southeast Asia, Hurricane Katrina and the 2004 election.
"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," Disney/ABC Television president Anne Sweeney said in an email announcing the appointment.
He has written two bestselling novels, "The Man Who Ate the 747" in 2000 and "The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud" in 2004. A movie adaptation of "Charlie St. Cloud" was released in July, and "747" is being developed as a movie and Broadway musical.
His latest book, The Survivors Club, is a non-fiction look at dealing with adversity. In 2009 he founded TheSurvivorsClub.org.
Sherwood is a member of the advisory board of the Center for Public Integrity in Washington and the Council on Foreign Relations in New York City.