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O'Dwyer's Newsletter - June 13, 2011 - Vol. 44 - No. 23 (download PDF version)

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MEDIA NEWS ____________________________________________________________


CBS News has elevated two top communications executives as the division begins a new era under evening news anchor and managing editor Scott Pelley.


Sonya McNair, the former New Yorker PR director who joined CBS in 2009, was elevated to senior VP, communications, for CBS News.

Kelli Raftery, a freelancer who joined the entertainment division on the West Coast last year, was tapped as VP of communications for news and will relocate to New York reporting to McNair.

CBS Corp.’s longtime PR chief Gil Schwartz called the transition “an exciting time of change and development” for the network’s news unit.

“60 Minutes” alum Pelley made his anchor chair debut on Monday, taking over for Katie Couric. CBS News president David Rhodes called McNair a “trusted advisor” since his arrival in February.


NBC Universal veteran Hilary Smith has been elevated to senior VP, communications, for the media giant’s newly formed digital portfolio, including pieces from merger partner Comcast like Fandango and DailyCandy.

Smith was a senior VP of NBCU’s women and lifestyle entertainment networks division (iVillage and other properties) since 2009. She takes the PR reins for the media company’s entertainment and digital networks and integrated media unit, a group of properties that also includes Swirl, Television Without Pity and its “Hispanics at NBCU” initiative.

During her tenure, she worked the NBC-Vivendi Universal merger and acquisitions of Telemundo and Bravo.

Smith joined the company in 1998 from CBS as a press manager for “Dateline.” She reports to division president Nicholas Lehman and EVP/comms. Cameron Blanchard.


Former New York Times columnist Bob Herbert has joined the Demos think tank in New York as distinguished senior fellow. He is to contribute to the organization’s blog,, and the American Prospect magazine, which has a partnership with Demos.


Demos published Herbert’s first blog, “The Jobs Emergency and America in Crisis” on June 7.

Herbert was columnist at the Times from 1993-2011.

He had reporting jobs at the Daily News, Star-Ledger, NBC, WCBS-TV and WNYC-TV.

Herbert is the author of two books and is working on a new one called "Wounded Colossus."

Demos says it works to promote an equitable economy and empowered public sector.



Matt Cooper is the new editor of National Journal Daily and charged with giving Washington leaders precisely what they need to know about Congress to succeed, according to Ron Fournier, editorin-chief of the National Journal Group.

Cooper joined the National Journal in September as managing editor of its White House coverage.

Formerly, he was White House correspondent for U.S. News & World Report and deputy

D.C. bureau chief for Newsweek and Time.


Roma Khanna, who was president of Universal Network’s international and digital initiatives, is the new president of MGM’s TV and digital group.

She is to oversee sales, production, licensing, acquisitions and content creation, as well as opportunity for MGM’s 4,100 title-plus film library.

At NBCU, Khanna was responsible for more than 70 TV properties including Syfy Universal, Hallmark Channel and Diva Universal.

She reports to Co-chairman and CEOs Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum.


WNET, New York City’s public TV station, is assuming operation of the New Jersey Network, a move by Governor Chris Christie to get the Garden State out of the broadcasting business.

A new WNET subsidiary called New Jersey Public Media will be formed to develop a newscast dedicated to events in the state.

There will be coverage of Trenton and a Sunday public affairs program.

WNET says it will create partnerships with media, cultural institutions and community groups throughout New Jersey to provide local color.

NJN currently employs 120 staffers, who will lose their jobs under the deal.

WNET sees the need for about 20 people to produce the newcast.

Christie is also selling four state-owned radio licenses to New York Public Radio (WNYC) and five others to Philadelphia public outlet, WHYY.


Joel Kaplan, dean of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, is the new ombudsman for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. He takes over for Ken Bode whose term expired in December.

Kaplan says he looks forward to improving transparency, encouraging greater objectivity/balance and making sure that CPB is responsive to comments and questions for the public.

Before joining Syracuse University, Kaplan was an investigative reporter for the Chicago Tribune and The Tennessean of Nashville.

Patricia Harrison is CEO of CPB.

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