Ben Sherwood: New President of ABC News Vows Success for Network

Former 'Good Morning America' Executive Producer to Take Helm from David Westin

December 01, 2010, 2:33 PM

Dec. 3, 2010— -- In a packed ABC News studio, incoming network president Ben Sherwood vowed to "work his heart out" to propel the news division to success.

"This is the greatest building in all of television, and the people who work here are the best in television," said Sherwood, who noted that it was "emotional" to walk into the ABC News headquarters this morning for the first time in years.

"It is our mission to think as boldly as possible," said Sherwood.

The audience that gathered to welcome Sherwood back to ABC News – most recently he served as the executive producer of "Good Morning America" from 2004 to 2006 – included "World News" anchor Diane Sawyer, Barbara Walters and outgoing president Westin.

Anne Sweeney, the co-chair of Disney Media Networks and President of Disney/ABC Television Group, said Sherwood is "here to lead."

"I felt the pressure to replace the outstanding David Westin with someone who could continue his great work and the great work of all of you into the future," said Sweeney of her pick.

"[Sherwood] has had very interesting successes that are marked with great brainpower throughout his career," said Sweeney. "I feel very fortunate that he is with us."

Speaking about his own departure, Westin, moved to tears, said that it's his time to "get off the playing field" before adding that he would "be up in the stands" cheering for ABC News.

It was Sherwood's "deep intelligence" and "restless curiosity" that helped to land him the position, said Westin.

"He has a burning desire to make this great institution greater," said Westin.

Sherwood, who flew to New York overnight from his home in California, joked that his lack of sleep reminded him of what it's like to work in news.

He first joined ABC News in 1989 as an associate producer and producer for "PrimeTime" and later led "Good Morning America" to its two most successful seasons. Sherwood has also worked at NBC's "Nightly News" and has published two best-selling novels.

"Humbled," at his new opportunity, Sherwood said that his experience within ABC News will give him a significant leg up in the post.

"I learned a tremendous amount during my years here," he said. "Together we can take this news division to new heights."

Asked about the biggest challenge he faces, Sherwood said that the "massive changes in news" make it that much more important to remain competitive.

"We have to find a way to differentiate ourselves, innovate and find a new way of connecting to our audience," he said. "We must be ferociously competitive."

ABC News Digital will be of the utmost importance in this mission, according to Sherwood.

"Digital is everything, it's essential," he said. "I'm going to challenge our digital team to think really big thoughts."

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