Veteran ABC News communications chief Jeffrey Schneider is leaving the network after 14 years to start his own media company, ABC announced Monday.
Schneider, who was a network SVP and chief spokesperson, will launch Schneider Global Strategy, a media consulting firm. His deputy at ABC News, Julie Townsend will assume his role at the network.
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“Jeffrey has been our champion in great and tough times,” ABC News president James Goldston wrote in a note to staff Monday. “He’s done it with good humor, nearly superhuman drive and a deep love for this institution. We have all seen him in action, promoting and defending this news division with passion and intensity. And for 14 years, 365 days a year, at all hours of the night and day, he has treated ABC News as family, advising with the utmost care and wisdom so many in this division and company.”
“It has been an incredible honor and privilege to work with such exceptional journalists over the past 14 years,” Schneider said. “I’m very grateful for the thrilling experiences I’ve had at the news division and embark on this new path with tremendous affection and respect for all the people of ABC News.”
Schneider, who was briefly suspended from the network in June following an internal incident, will remain with ABC through next month’s midterm elections. His firm will specialize in media relations and crisis management and already has two big clients: ABC News and Disney/ABC TV.
Schneider’s replacement, Townsend, started at ABC News in 2001 as as PR coordinator for “Nightline” and “This Week” before working her way up to publicity director. After departing for a corporate communications post at NBCUniversal, Townsend returned to ABC News in 2011 as VP of Communications.
“Julie is a persuasive storyteller and a passionate champion for ABC News,” Goldston added. “She believes deeply in our team and in the importance of the work we do. She has worked for us in both New York and in Washington and with every program and platform, providing her invaluable insight to all corners of our news division.”
ABC News currently has the number one rated morning show in “Good Morning America.” At night, “World News Tonight” with David Muir is growing, taking over as number one in the 25-54 demo and closing the total viewers gap with current leader “Nightly News” with Brian Williams. On Sundays, “This Week” with George Stephanopoulos has seen a ratings surge over the last year, frequently finishing in first place in total viewer and the demo.