ABC’s chief investigative correspondent Brian Ross and ABC chief of investigative projects Rhonda Schwartz are leaving the company. ABC News president James Goldston made the announcement in a memo sent to news division staffers this afternoon.
Their departure comes 7 months to the day after Ross – a 24-year veteran of ABC News and an award-winning journalist – began a 4-week unpaid suspension for a “serious error in reporting” during early coverage of former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s guilty plea in the Russia probe.
When Ross returned from the suspension on Jan. 5, 2018, it was in a different capacity. He became ABC’s chief investigative correspondent (the “News” was removed from his title), and he moved from the ABC News headquarters down the street to the ABC-owned Lincoln Square Productions.
Former PBS programming chief Beth Hoppe left the public broadcaster earlier this year to become head of longform for ABC News. She took on her new role in March, and among her responsibilities was to oversee Lincoln Square Prods.
Here’s Goldston’s memo to staffers:
After more than two decades at ABC News, Brian Ross and Rhonda Schwartz have decided to leave the company.
In their long careers here, Brian, Rhonda and their team have been recognized with nearly every prestigious award in our business – an impressive tally of four George Polk awards, four Peabody awards, four duPonts, five Murrows, 17 News and Documentary Emmys and the Harvard Goldsmith Prize, in 2014, for the single best investigative report in print or broadcast.
They’ve exposed government corruption at every level, international human rights abuses and fraud, uncovered dangerous working conditions, sexual abuse cover-ups and dishonest business practices. Their work has led repeatedly to real changes in policy in the U.S. and around the world. They broke numerous stories following 9/11 about the government investigation of the attacks, from the identification of the terrorists to secret CIA prisons. Over the years they have built a team of the best investigative journalists in our industry, and they leave behind an outstanding group that will continue to break stories for many years to come.
Please join me in thanking Brian and Rhonda for their tireless work at ABC News. They asked me to share the note below with all of you. We wish them well in their next chapter.
Schwartz and Ross sent a goodbye note of their own:
The time has come to say good-bye.
After a great run of 24 years, we have decided to pack up and move on from ABC News, an organization that has meant so much to us.
We leave with enormous gratitude for all those who supported us and helped build the industry’s most robust and honored investigative unit. It is a point of great pride to see the soaring careers of so many of the talented and dedicated people who worked with us in producing hundreds of ground-breaking investigative reports that empowered the disenfranchised, exposed corruption and helped make our society a better place.
While we are signing off from ABC News, we are hardly leaving investigative journalism. There is much more to do.
Rhonda Schwartz and Brian Ross
And a tweet for good measure:
It’s time to say good-bye after 24 years at ABC News, an organization that has meant so much to us. While Rhonda Schwartz and I are signing off from ABC News, we are hardly leaving investigative journalism. There is much more to do.
— Brian Ross (@BrianRoss) July 2, 2018