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Jeffrey Schneider, longtime media relations chief at ABC News, will leave the division to start his own firm, said ABC News president James Goldston on Monday. Known for his aggressive style, Schneider worked closely with three presidents: David Westin, Ben Sherwood (who recently relocated to Burbank to take on Anne Sweeney‘s position as president of Disney-ABC Television Group) and Goldston.
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A 14-year veteran of ABC News, Schneider last summer weathered a suspension over a verbal altercation with a colleague. He’ll remain at ABC News trough the midterm elections and start his own firm, Schneider Global Strategy, specializing in media relations and crisis management, later in the fall. His first client will be the news division and Disney-ABC Television Group.
Julie Townsend, who has been Schneider’s No. 2 since rejoining ABC News 2011 after an earlier stint, will oversee the news division’s communications group.
The announcement came on Monday morning from Goldston, who characterized Schneider as a “key player” at ABC News who defended the news division with “passion and intensity.”
“It has been an incredible honor and privilege to work with such exceptional journalists over the past 14 years. I’m very grateful for the thrilling experiences I’ve had at the news division and embark on this new path with tremendous affection and respect for all the people of ABC News,” said Schneider in a statement.
Goldston’s full memo to staff below:
I have some big news to share with all of you.
Jeffrey Schneider, a key player in our news division over the past 14 years, will be founding his own firm, Schneider Global Strategy, specializing in media relations and crisis management.
Jeffrey has been our champion in great and tough times. He’s done it with good humor, nearly superhuman drive and a deep love for this institution. We have all seen him in action, promoting and defending this news division with passion and intensity. And for 14 years, 365 days a year, at all hours of the night and day, he has treated ABC News as family, advising with the utmost care and wisdom so many in this division and company.
When Ben was promoted in March, Jeffrey informed him and Kevin Brockman that it might be the right time for him to do something he had long wanted to do – start his own firm. They asked Jeffrey to remain at ABC News to handle coming executive and anchor transitions and provide counsel to me when I was named President of the News Division.
With ABC News in its strongest journalistic and competitive position in decades and our leadership team and anchors in place, the time has arrived for Jeffrey to embark on that adventure. I’m glad to report that the News Division and DATG will be his very first clients, so we will continue to benefit from his years of experience.
A list of accomplishments, which he would be the first to credit to his amazing team, would make for a very long note indeed. But just a few highlights that give perspective to the scope of some of the issues: terrorism and wars; an anthrax attack on our newsroom; the wounding of Bob Woodruff and Doug Vogt in Iraq; our historic run at Good Morning America; and on and on.
Jeffrey’s communications team is recognized as the best in the business, consistently delivering the biggest and most effective roll outs of our world class content and exclusive interviews, impactful investigations and breaking news. To ensure a smooth transition, Jeffrey will be here through Election Day and then Julie Townsend, who has worked shoulder-to-shoulder with him on so many issues, will step up to oversee communications strategy and lead the public relations team for the news division, reporting to Kevin Brockman.
Julie is a persuasive storyteller and a passionate champion for ABC News. She believes deeply in our team and in the importance of the work we do. She has worked for us in both New York and in Washington and with every program and platform, providing her invaluable insight to all corners of our news division.
In 2001 she began her career in our Washington bureau as PR Coordinator for Nightline and This Week, working her way up to Publicity Director in New York for Digital. After several years in corporate communications for NBCUniversal, where she worked closely with the company’s General Counsel, she returned to ABC News as our Vice President of Communications in 2011.
Since then, Julie has collaborated with many of you on some of our biggest initiatives. She shepherded us through the launch of our game-changing partnerships with Yahoo and Fusion and has helped build anticipation for our biggest specials and interviews by driving extensive press coverage. Time and again Julie has shown her versatility, determination and dedication to ABC News. She has proven herself a leader and as a valuable advisor to so many of us – helping us navigate every issue with a steady hand.
Please join me in congratulating Julie on this new role.
We will have many opportunities to celebrate Jeffrey, and raise a glass to him, in the coming weeks. For now, I know that you will join me in thanking him for his tireless and remarkable work for ABC News and wish him all success in his new venture.
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