With Chris Licht out at CNN, women dominate the top editorial positions at cable news networks. The trend compliments the many print publications with women as editors-in-chief, a phenomenon new to the industry.
FOX (FOXA) News named Suzanne Scott as CEO in 2018. MSNBC’s Rashida Jones made history in 2021 as the first a Black woman to lead a major cable network. Kimberly Godwin, another Black woman, continued that legacy when ABC News announced her as president a few months later. NBC News appointed Rebecca Blumenstein as its president in January.
Wendy McMahon at CBS News shares the lead role with a male colleague, Neeraj Khemlani. The network advanced both of them in 2021. While Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav looks for a new chief executive for CNN, a Warner Bros. property, a group of four executives, including two women, are leading the network.
Twenty years ago, men led all seven of these networks. CNN has still never had a woman lead its editorial team, and many of these women are the first to advance to the top role at their respective networks, including Scott, Godwin and McMahon.
Cable news isn’t the only media segment where women are developing a strong presence in leadership roles. Print publications have turned to female leaders as well. Meredith Kopit Levien is the chief executive of The New York Times, Sally Buzbee edits The Washington Post and Emma Tucker heads The Wall Street Journal. Women also lead the newsrooms at the Associated Press, Reuters, Fortune and Axios, among other news publishers. (And the entire editorial team at Observer is, at least for now, female.)
How are women represented in journalism?
Globally, women only occupy 22 percent of the top editorial positions in newsrooms, according to a study by the University of Oxford published in March. The U.S. has one of the higher percentages, with women holding 44 percent of these roles, compared to 35 percent in the U.K., 20 percent in Germany and 5 percent in Mexico. The U.S. number is up from 41 percent in 2020. In the U.S., 53 percent of journalists are women, according to research from Zippia, a job search company.
A decade ago, women were significantly under-represented in top editorial roles, according to a study by the International Women’s Media Foundation. In 2011, women occupied just 23 percent of top management positions, despite 41 percent of journalists being women.
Who are the top women in cable news?
Suzanne Scott, Fox News
Of the women currently running cable news, Scott has held her position the longest. Fox appointed her CEO in 2018, following the 20-year stint of Roger Ailes. She is the second chief executive in the network’s history and first woman. Until Jones’s appointment at MSNBC, Scott was the only female head of a news network.
She worked as an executive assistant to broadcasting executive Chet Collier at CNBC before moving to Fox News with him in 1996. She began at Fox as a programming assistant and advanced to many other roles, including senior producer of On the Record with Greta Van Susteren, network executive producer and executive vice president of programming.
Rashida Jones, MSNBC
Jones began her career as a morning show producer at WTKR, a television station based in Norfolk, Virginia. She moved to The Weather Channel and WIS-TV, a Columbia, South Carolina-based station, before becoming an executive producer for daytime shows at MSNBC in 2013. She held various positions at the network, including senior vice president of specials for NBC News and MSNBC and managing editor at MSNBC. She became president of the network in February 2021.
She is a member of the Scripps Howard Journalism Hall of Fame at Hampton University, where she completed her undergraduate degree. Jones created a scholarship fund in her name for journalism students at the university last year.
Kimberly Godwin, ABC News
Godwin became president of ABC News in April 2021. She previously worked at CBS from 2007 to 2021, holding positions including senior broadcast producer, executive director for development and diversity and executive vice president. Before that, she worked at local news stations in cities including New York, Los Angeles, Dallas and Cleveland.
She has won a series of awards in her career, including six National News and Documentary Emmy Awards, two Edward R. Murrow Awards and an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia award.
Rebecca Blumenstein, NBC News
Blumenstein worked as the deputy managing editor at the Times before joining NBC News in January. She also worked in positions at the Journal, including as the deputy editor in chief.
Blumenstein led the Journal’s team that won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize in International Reporting for a series of stories on the impacts of capitalism in China. She also works at the chair on the Board for the Columbia Journalism Review.
Wendy McMahon, CBS News
Alongside Khemlani, McMahon works as the president and co-head of CBS News. Before taking the role in 2021, she spent six years at ABC, both as senior vice president of digital and president of ABC-owned stations. She has also worked in various local new positions, including for five years at Los Angeles-based television station KABC, for three years at Boston-based radio station WBZ and for two years at Austin-based television station KXAN. Her teams have received a number of awards, including Emmy, Associated Press and regional Edward R. Murrow awards.
Amy Entelis and Virginia Moseley, CNN
A team of four CNN executives are overseeing the network until a Zaslav names a new chief executive. They include Amy Entelis, Virginia Moseley, Eric Sherling and David Leavy.
Both Entelis and Moseley joined CNN in 2012 after long careers at ABC. Entelis worked first as a senior vice president and then as executive vice president at the network. She is in charge of all on-air talent, both recruiting new hosts and supporting existing ones. Before that, she worked for 30 years at ABC News in producer roles.
Moseley holds the title of executive vice president of editorial in the U.S., where she manages all breaking news and other content at CNN. She previously spent 18 years at ABC, where she worked as a senior political editor, executive producer of This Week and senior Washington producer of Good Morning America.