News anchor Willow Bay named as USC journalism school’s next leader

Willow Bay and Robert Iger
Television news anchor Willow Bay, shown with husband Robert Iger of the Walt Disney Co., has been chosen as the new director of USC’s School of Journalism.
(Jemal Countess, Getty Images)

Television news anchor Willow Bay, a veteran of ABC, CNN and Bloomberg TV, will be the next director of USC’s School of Journalism, campus officials announced Wednesday.

Bay’s experience is expected to help the school emphasize online and television journalism. Her two predecessors worked in newspapers.

Bay’s selection concludes a lengthy search that was marred last year when the previously announced choice, a Northwestern University professor, turned down the USC job two days after accepting it.

Bay, 50, is a senior editor at Huffington Post and a special correspondent and host for Bloomberg TV. She has co-anchored ABC’s “Good Morning America/Sunday” and CNN’s “Moneyline News Hour,” and was the lead writer and producer of CNN’s weekend news program “Pinnacle.” She co-hosted “NBA Inside Stuff,” the long-running basketball news show on ABC and NBC.


“The breadth of Willow Bay’s experiences, skills and talents is extraordinary,” said Ernest James Wilson III, dean of the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, in a statement. “Her leadership will help our innovative school aggressively continue our path of creating — and defining — the digital future.”

A former fashion model, Bay is married to Robert Iger, chairman and chief executive of Walt Disney Co.

She will begin the job in July. Bay said in a statement that she has gotten to know Annenberg graduates while working at the Huffington Post.

“I look forward to leading the school as it educates and inspires the next generation of journalists and public relations professionals for the future and contributes groundbreaking academic research into these fields,” she said.


The last search for a new director of USC’s journalism school took a confusing turn last March when the winner, Northwestern professor and television documentary producer Douglas Foster, suddenly withdrew, citing “a mismatch” between visions of the job.

He would have succeeded Geneva Overholser, the former editor of the Des Moines Register who had been journalism school director since 2008. Michael Parks, the former editor of the Los Angeles Times and director of USC’s journalism program from 2001 to 2008, then returned as interim director.

Bay arrives at USC at a time of major educational and physical changes. A nine-month master’s degree program in journalism is about to replace a two-year study course. And students and faculty in the fall will move into the new Wallis Annenberg Hall, an 88,000-square-foot building with up-to-date facilities for digital, radio, broadcast and print journalism.

The Annenberg’s other main division, its communication school, also will get a new director when USC professor Sarah Banet-Weiser takes over this summer.