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Chris Berend Tapped to Oversee NBC News’ Digital Efforts

Chris Berend, an executive who has been overseeing digital video for CNN and helped launch Great Big Story, a streaming-video site aimed at younger audiences, will jump to NBC News to lead its digital efforts.

Berend will replace Nick Ascheim, who will move into a new role that is described as “improving digital and product for NBCU and NBC News Group broadly.” Under Ascheim’s aegis, NBC News has launched an e-commerce business around its “Today” franchise; debuted “Stay Tuned,” a program for Snapchat audiences; and built a foundation for a new streaming-video project, NBC News Now.

Berend will start in July, and will be executive vice president of NBC News Digital. He will report to Noah Oppenheim, president of NBC News.

“With Nick moving on, I’ve been giving a good deal of thought to the next steps in the evolution of our Digital efforts. Specifically, how can we further our goal of always putting “story first” while fully integrating our television, digital video and text journalism into one unified structure within NBC News?” said Andy Lack, chairman of the NBC News Group, in a memo to employees Monday. “Our Digital team must now live more deeply within NBC News organizationally, rather than alongside it.”

At CNN, Berend leads oversight of digital video, and content strategy for CNN platforms on mobile, web and connected TVs, among others. He has been with the company since 2013, and was heavily involved with the launch of Great Big Story in 2015. The site was billed as a place for younger, digital-native news consumers to get video stories. Over time, Great Big Story even produced some TV series that appeared on CNN, Weather Channel and other outlets. Berend has also logged time for Bloomberg Media and ESPN. He also worked as a journalist at Esquire.

“He has a sharp eye for product, and a fantastic sense of the business and editorial demands of digital news,” said Lack.

Great Big Story will continue as a stand-alone unit, led by  Courtney Coupe, who will “assume responsibility for the CNN Digital Productions team and our premium and streaming video efforts,” said Andrew Morse, CNN’s executive vice president and general manager of CNN Digital Worldwide. Wendy Brundige will continue to head CNN’s global news video team and will  take on responsibility for  video programming and operations groups for an interim period, he said. Great Big Story, he said, “has the full support of [CNN Worldwide President] Jeff [Zucker],me and everyone at CNN.”

 

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