New Book: "Exit Interview"
David Westin who was the president of ABC News from 14 years has written a book, "Exit Interview" about his time at the helm of one of the country's most revered network news programs. Much like HBO's new program, "The Newsroom," his book gives an insider look at what happens behind the scenes in a newsroom. How are decisions made? How is the news defined? What gets covered and what doesn't?
Westin entered the doors of ABC as corporate counsel in 1995 and by 1997 he was tapped to head up the corporation. But not everyone thought he was right for the position. His critics felt he lacked journalism credibility.
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In a review by the Wall Street Journal, J. Max Robins writes, " That rap from the "high priests of journalism"-as he called them in that New Yorker profile-clearly continues to haunt him. In "Exit Interview," a memoir of the 14 years he spent at ABC News (he left at the end of 2010), Mr. Westin labors to establish his news bona fides while recounting the pressures of balancing journalistic principles with economic realities."
Robins, who is the executive director of industry programs at the Paley Center for Media in New York, writes that the memoir is about Westin defining his legacy and making a case for his tenure but he and other reviewers also contend that the memoir offers an inside glimpse into newsroom decision making.
For example Westin writes about some pivotal decisions that changed the face of network news for years to come as well as the blunders he made during his tenure.
From Robins' review: "Mr. Westin no doubt takes some pleasure in recalling that Arledge hated his idea to pair Ms. Sawyer with Charles Gibson on "Good Morning America"-a move that resuscitated the moribund franchise, brought in hundreds of millions of dollars in morning-news advertising revenue, and was arguably the shrewdest decision of Mr. Westin's run."
But there was also Westin's decision to have Leonardo Dicaprio interview President Bill Clinton, an idea that was not only a mistake, but for which he was mocked.