CBS News President Ingrid Ciprian-Matthews Will Exit Amid Cost Cuts

CBS News may be on the hunt for another newsroom honcho.

Ingrid Ciprian-Matthews, a veteran journalism executive who was named president of the Paramount Global news unit just last August, told staffers Wednesday morning that she planned to cede her role, opting instead to serve as a senior advisor for coverage of the 2024 presidential election over the next several months before leaving the company.

Shaking up the senior executive structure at a major news organization in the middle of an election year is highly unorthodox, but so too are the struggles of CBS News’ parent corporation. Paramount has agreed to a merger with Hollywood production studio Skydance Media, and top executives at the company and its new suitor have already indicated that a wave of cost cuts is in store.

During a short tenure as president of CBS News, Ciprian-Matthews presided over a new boost at “CBS Mornings,” which has grown more competitive with ABC rival “Good Morning America” among viewers between the ages of 25 and 54, the demographic most coveted by advertisers. “CBS Evening News” anchor Norah O’Donnell snared a hard-to-get interview with Pope Francis. And the network has seen its Washington coverage bolstered by reporters such as Ed O’Keefe, Major Garrett and Robert Costa.

The tenure of a network news president usually lasts three years or more. “Some may be asking why I’m announcing this now. We all know our industry and company are going through a transformation and a number of short- and long-term decisions need to be made,” Ciprian-Matthews wrote in a memo reviewed by Variety. “ I do not want to be disingenuous with any of you about who should drive these decisions. I’ve always leaned into my integrity and my values, and I felt it was important to be transparent at this juncture about my plans.”

Ciprian-Matthews “will transition into this new role over the next few weeks, and we will share more updates soon,” said Wendy McMahon, president and CEO of CBS’ news, stations and syndication operations, in a memo. A new president of CBS News was not immediately named.

Ciprian-Matthews is the third CBS News executive to cycle through the newsroom’s top job since 2021, a sign of the challenges facing TV-news outlets as the rise of streaming upends some of the media sector’s most traditional programming.

She was named president of CBS News following the exit of Neeraj Khemlani, one of two executives jointly overseeing Paramount’s news and local TV operations. Khemlani departed in the summer of 2023. His co-president, McMahon, has since that time taken sole oversight. The pair were put in place following the 2021 exit of Susan Zirinsky, another CBS News veteran who logged decades of service before being awarded top responsibility for the home of “60 Minutes” and “CBS Evening News.”

During that time, CBS News has tried to boost the fortunes of “CBS Mornings” and “CBS Evening News,” which typically run in third place behind A.M. and P.M. offerings from ABC and NBC. At the same time, the news division boasts some of the industry’s most-watched Sunday news programming, including “CBS Sunday Morning,” “Face The Nation:” and the newsmagazine warhorse “60 Minutes.”

CBS was first among the big U.S. media companies to merge its local and national news operations, and McMahon has ambitious goals for the business. Already, she has unveiled a new “whip-around” program format for CBS News’ live-streaming hub and is looking to bolster the concept of a “local-to-national’  news business that can offer viewers big national and international stories while tapping CBS’ local stations to provide boots-on-the-ground coverage when important matters break. Breaking national and local news out of silos is “a force multiplier,” she told Variety in a recent interview.

NBCUniversal and Disney have followed the strategy. At NBC, local stations are now under the purview of Cesar Conde, who also runs the company’s news operations, including NBC News, MSNBC and CNBC. Disney has combined ABC News and local ABC stations under Deborah OConnell, a veteran operating executive who is soon expected to name a new ABC News president.

With such a combination, however, comes some diminishment of stature. In a different era, local news was seen as the proving ground where a journalist had to succeed before moving up to the network. Now the two are being combined to help boost news to streaming audiences who aren’t likely to differentiate between a CBS News correspondent and a reporter for, say, KCAL.

While Cirprian-Matthews is capping off a distinguished career, CBS’ decision not to fill her role immediately is notable. CBS News is, like the rest of U.S. media, in the middle of the 2024 presidential election, typically an event that draws broader audiences and bigger ratings — two elements of paramount importance to the TV business.

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