Maria Shriver Joins NBC News as Special Correspondent

Maria Shriver - Women's Conference: Headshot - 2010
Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Maria Shriver - Women's Conference

The former first lady of California, who contributed to the "Today" show's papal coverage last March, will focus on women's issues.

Maria Shriver is returning to NBC News as a special anchor. Shriver worked at NBC News for nearly two decades, from 1986-2004, but left to focus on her work as first lady of California. But she has remained active in charity and other media work since the 2011 infidelity scandal that led to her separation from husband Arnold Schwarzenegger including making an appearance last March on the Today show during papal coverage.

In her new role, she’ll focus on women’s issues, NBC said in a statement, including the “shifting roles, emerging power and evolving needs of women in modern life.” Her reports will appear across NBC News platforms including CNBC, MSNBC and NBC Sports. She’ll also serve as editor-at-large for women’s issue across NBC News digital properties.

Shriver has been rumored as among those NBC News was pursuing to join the Today show in some sort of regular capacity; part of a strategy to bring a more ensemble feel to the morning show, which last year lost its ratings dominance to ABC’s Good Morning America. At the time, sources close to Shriver said she had no interest in returning to a full-time and traditional television news role. There was also interest in Shriver from multiple daytime talk show players.

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Shriver broke the news of her new role at NBC News Tuesday morning via Twitter. The mother of four will remain based in Los Angeles and since the NBC deal is non-exclusive, she’ll continue work on outside projects. She produces the 2009 HBO documentary series The Alzheimer’s Project. She’ll also continue to produce – via her production shingle – her series of multi-platform investigative Shriver Reports. But NBC News will now have exclusive access to those projects. The next Shriver report will roll out in 2014 and examine the financial insecurity among American women.

“I’ve always believed that television can inspire and elevate humanity, and that’s my mission with this new partnership,” said Shriver in a statement. “I look forward to shining a light on all areas of a woman's experience – from faith and finances, wellness and work, to relationships and the new realities of modern life– and exploring these issues in a way that brings the voices of men into these critically important conversations.”

Added NBCUniversal News Group chairman Pat Fili-Krushel: “Through her reports, her books, her events, her activism and the powerful social community that she has built, Maria Shriver has become a leading voice for empowering women and inspiring all of us to be architects of change in our lives. We are delighted that Maria will play such a key role in our efforts to examine this important topic, and all of us at the NBC family are excited to welcome her home.”