ABC News’ new president Ben Sherwood was in a tough position on Monday meeting with the collected TV press, and he did try to reassure his employees — albeit after a long pause — that there wouldn’t be more layoffs at ABC’s news division in 2011, after slashing about a quarter of the work force last year.
Beyond that, though, there were a lot of snippets in Sherwood’s Q&A session that I suspect will make some of the rank-and-file employees in the news division cringe.
For starters, he pledged to forge a “much closer relationship with entertainment,” which is unsettling, since they seemed to be pretty chummy with David Westin at the helm.
He also said that ABC News would continue to try providing the network with ‘compelling and riveting primetime programming,” then tacitly endorsed the staged morality hidden-camera show, “What Would You Do?”
In addition, Sherwood called himself a “morning television junkie,” which of all the things to be a junkie about, doesn’t really bode well for serious journalism.
Finally, Sherwood punted completely on the question of opinion in cable news, saying only that ABC should speak with “one editorial voice.” Fair enough, but given the impact and influence of cable news, it’s surprising he couldn’t come up with something a bit more thoughtful than that.