Cable news startup NewsNation loses third top journalist

Cable news startup NewsNation loses third top journalist
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Cable news channel NewsNation lost a third senior journalist Tuesday, marking the latest fallout from the startup’s struggles to contain employee concerns about right-wing bias.

The departure of Jennifer Lyons, vice president of news, comes shortly after two top editors left amid issues over the channel’s ties to Bill Shine, who was a communications manager for former President TrumpDonald TrumpCheney says a lot of GOP lawmakers have privately encouraged her fight against Trump Republicans criticizing Afghan refugees face risks DeVos says 'principles have been overtaken by personalities' in GOP MORE.

“Jennifer Lyons has decided to leave her position as vice president of news at NewsNation,” a spokesman for Nexstar Media Group, the channel’s parent company, confirmed in an emailed statement to The Hill.

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“We have begun a search for her replacement and hope to have that person in place quickly. While the search moves forward, Nexstar’s Executive Vice President of Station Operations and Content Development, Blake Russell, assisted by members of our local content development team, will be responsible for overseeing NewsNation.”

Perry Sook, chairman and CEO of Nexstar Media Group informed the staff earlier today, the spokesperson said, adding that Lyons will be “communicating her departure in a message to the NewsNation staff” on Tuesday.

Her departure comes shortly after two senior news editors, Sandy Pudar and Richard Maginn, resigned in February and March, respectively.  

NewsNation was originally the name of an evening news show on WGN America that Nexstar launched in 2020. At that time, executives promised that the WGN America news operation would be an unbiased neutral alternative to cable news outlets perceived by some to be more partisan, such as MSNBC and Fox News.

The company reiterated those promises on March 1, when Nexstar rebranded WGN America as NewsNation.

However, staff concerns about a right-wing tilt began to grow last September, The New York Times reported this week, after the outlet aired a Trump interview conducted by NewsNation anchor Joe Donlon that some criticized as being too friendly.

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Those concerns grew when news broke earlier this year that Nexstar had hired Shine, a former Fox News executive.

Shine led communications for the Trump administration starting in July 2018, a job he held for less than a year. Before that, Shine was a Fox executive for almost 20 years, ultimately reaching the rank of co-president before being forced out in the wake of former chairman Roger Ailes’s sexual harassment scandal.

NewsNation ratings fell on March 1, the day it rebranded. According to trade publication The Wrap, ratings during primetime hours that day dropped 18 percent compared to the same day the previous week and were down 27 percent in the key demographic of viewers aged 25-54.