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EXIT INTERVIEW by David Westin


by David Westin

Pub Date: May 22nd, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-374-15121-8
Publisher: Sarah Crichton/Farrar, Straus and Giroux

A former president of ABC News looks back over the stories that shaped his leadership.

Westin succeeded Roone Arledge as the head of the news organization in 1997. Here he presents an insider’s view of some of the bigger stories that broke while he was in charge and defends the continuing value of broadcast news. The major stories included the death of Princess Diana, the Monica Lewinsky scandal and President Clinton's impeachment, the breakdown of exit polling in the 2000 presidential election debacle, 9/11 and the subsequent invasion of Iraq. The author shows how he established himself within the company and also the country as the leader of the most-watched network news broadcast in America. Westin also notes that while networks favored advertiser-funded broadcasting that avoided controversy, Fox News and others “embraced controversy. The more partisan, the better. And this approach was every bit a matter of shrewd business as it was a matter of ideology.” The author’s selected stories demonstrate how the news can be covered without becoming overly polemical, and he argues against the temptation “to cut back on the reporting and seek an audience through the expression of opinion.” In that vein, he looks at Fox's mixture of “twenty-four hour news with polemics” and its relation to conservative politics. ABC News still reaches four times as many viewers as Fox, and Westin discusses how technology and the Web are being used to defend that advantage.

Should interest more than just news or politics junkies.