ABC News president James Goldston, who has led the network news division for the past seven years, is stepping down at the end of March.
Goldston announced the decision in an internal memo on Thursday afternoon.
“I’ve decided this is the right moment to move on as this incredible era of news ends and another begins,” Goldston wrote.
Goldston described his role as “one of the great jobs in all of journalism.” He said his last day would be March 31.
Goldston led ABC’s news division, owned by Disney, to five Edward R. Murrow Awards for Overall Excellence since 2014.
He also expanded the news division’s television terrain by taking “The View” talk show over from ABC’s entertainment division, adding a third hour of “Good Morning America,” and expanding ABC’s live-streaming efforts.
“The last seven years have been a transformative time for the news division,” he wrote in his memo. “What hasn’t changed is the dedication of everyone here to deliver straightforward news and an unparalleled excellence for telling stories that matter. There is a great battle still be won – for the facts and the truth, and I know you will work tirelessly to prevail.”
Goldston also highlighted the ratings performance of signature programs like “GMA” and “World News Tonight with David Muir.”
“Some people will tell you the ratings don’t matter – never believe them, they do,” he wrote. “And thanks to your efforts, we have fought our way to number one across the board, in the mornings, in the evenings, in late night, on Friday nights and overnights, in streaming and social and audio and a lot of other places, too. It’s been spectacular and satisfying to witness.”
Goldston said his only regret about leaving in March is pandemic-related – “not being able to see our newsrooms filled again with people and energy and endeavor.”
His announcement spurred immediate speculation that it was tied somehow to last summer’s departure of Barbara Fedida, one of Goldston’s most powerful deputies.
ABC opened an internal investigation into Fedida after reporter Yashar Ali wrote about allegations of “confidential settlements” and “racist and inappropriate statements” in her past. Fedida called the allegations “heartbreaking and incredibly misleading” and said she had “been a champion for increased diversity in network news.”
Goldston’s boss, Disney executive Peter Rice, said the investigation confirmed that Fedida “did make some of the unacceptable racially insensitive comments attributed to her.”
Ali tweeted on Thursday that “I was told that Goldston would be gone by the spring when I published my investigation on former ABC News executive Barbara Fedida. This has long been in the works.”
Goldston’s memo, however, repeatedly asserted that his departure was his decision.
“After a great deal of reflection over the last few months, I’m ready for a new adventure,” he wrote.
Rice said that Goldston and five ABC News executives will all report to him, through an Office of the President model, for the next two months.
“James has helped build ABC News into one of the most trusted and admired news organizations,” Rice told staffers in a memo. “We are committed to continuing his hard work and legacy while expanding on the unlimited opportunities the future brings.”