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Exit Interviewby David Westin
Synopses & Reviews
An industry veteran takes us inside TV news
In March 1997, when David Westin became president of ABC News, TV journalism was in the throes of rebirth: cable networks were proliferating, the Internet was emerging as a viable medium for journalists, and the Big Three were losing the cultural dominance theyd known for decades. More intriguingly, post-cold war America was enjoying an era of peace and prosperity. “It looked like all the really important news was behind us,” Westin writes.
It wasnt, of course, and for the next thirteen years he presided over ABC News for some of the most important, thrilling, fraught, and perplexing events in its history. Exit Interview is a behind-the-scenes look at his tenure and the major news that marked it. Neither an apologia nor a critique, the book instead addresses basic questions about journalists today—what they do and why they do it—from the point of view of someone who was there.
With touchstones from the recent past—President Clintons impeachment, the contentious 2000 election, and the war in Iraq, among others—Westin takes us inside the chaos of the newsroom, where what looks clear and certain from the outside is often mired in conflict and urgency. From his baptism by fire after Princess Dianas death to the epochal events of 9/11, he explores the uncertainty inherent to his job, and its central question: Is it possible for journalists to be both good at their jobs and people of good moral character?
"Like any good journalist, Westin delivers his feature story with finesse, urgency, and a suggestion of larger themes. Yet Westin, as he often reminds us in this compelling hybrid memoir and business guide, is not a journalist, but a lawyer turned corporate manager who joined ABC News in 1997 just in time for a princess's death, an infamous blue dress, and a terrorist attack. In this behind-the-scenes account, Westin (president of ABC News until 2010) describes himself as a flat-footed bureaucrat faced with an art-meets-business situation: the need to balance news versus entertainment; the safety of journalists versus getting the story; and getting the story first versus getting it right. Along the way, he addresses issues of bias, patriotism, and national security, as well as how leaders make tough decisions in difficult times. In the final chapters, Westin rationalizes a restructuring at the end of his tenure, as ABC News faced increased competition and the digital transformation of media consumption, and offers a timely discussion about the future of the media industry itself. Agent: Bob Barnett, Williams & Connolly." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
When David Westin became president of ABC News in March 1997, the division was treading water. “It looked like all the really important news was behind us,” he writes. Hardly. For the next thirteen years, Westin would preside over ABC News during some of the most important and perplexing events in its history:
• President Clintons impeachment
• The tied 2000 presidential election
• The 9/11 attacks
• Conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan
• The swift boat smear campaign against Senator John Kerry
Exit Interview is a behind-the-scenes look at Westins tenure and the major news that marked it. He takes us inside the chaos of the newsroom—alongside major players such as Peter Jennings, Barbara Walters, Diane Sawyer, and Bob Woodruff—where what looks clear and certain from the outside is often mired in conflict and urgency. Neither an apologia nor a critique, the book charts the ups and downs of fourteen formative years in network news, addressing basic questions about how our news is reported, from the point of view of someone who was there. With milestones from the recent past, Westin explores the uncertainty inherent in his job, and its central question: Is it possible for journalists to be both good at their jobs and people of good moral character?
About the Author
David Westin was president of ABC News from March 6, 1997, to December 3, 2010. He lives in Bronxville, New York.
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