Asian-American Journalist Ann Curry Leaves NBC News After 25 Years to Pursue New Media Startup

( [email protected] ) Jan 14, 2015 11:52 AM EST
Ann Curry
Ann Curry attends the TIME 100 Gala on April 24, 2012 in New York City. Credit: Kevin Mazur/WireImage

Ann Curry's career as a broadcast television journalist came to an end Tuesday after leaks came out indicating that she would be leaving NBC News.

Curry, 58, who has worked for NBC News for 25 years, is leaving the news network soon, as first reported by Emily Smith of Page Six. Smith reported that NBC was in negotiations to end her contract, reportedly worth up to $12 million a year.

"Ann has been unhappy for a long time because she's basically doing nothing, while NBC is unhappy that she has been paid a lot of money to do nothing," an NBC insider said to Page Six.

According to Lloyd Grove of The Daily Beast, the news surrounding her departure left NBC executives by surprise. NBC issued a press release to control the damage made by the leaks.

"I am sincerely grateful to NBC News for allowing me to offer viewers a vast and diverse body of work, including a depth of humanitarian reporting I understand still resonates," Curry said in NBC's press release. "It has been a privilege to work with so many good and talented people at the network and I look forward to what we will do ahead. At the same time, I can't wait to expand my reach and work with people I admire in other places."

The Daily Beast reported that NBC's press release noted that Curry's new company will have a business arrangement with NBC Universal. The press release, according to Catherine Taibi of the Huffington Post, indicated that Curry's new media startup "allows her the freedom to report on any platform and on any network, including NBC News, as well as any online or 'over the top' channels."

"This is about reaching for the edge of the future in journalism, which we know is undergoing an irrevocable transition," Curry said in the statement. "In today's world of fragmented media, this is the time to seize the opportunity to improve the way we distribute and even tell stories. I want to expand my drive to give voice to the voiceless to emerging platforms and produce both scripted and non-scripted content, in addition to continuing to report on-air about stories that matter."

Pat Fili-Krushel, chairman of the NBC Universal News Group, supported Curry's decision to leave the network.

"We're proud to support Ann in her new venture, and we look forward to more of her exceptional storytelling," Fili-Krushel said in the press release.

The Daily Beast reported that Curry was the news reader on the iconic NBC morning show "Today," which started in 1997 and lasted for 13 years. Although she hoped to be Matt Lauer's co-host after Katie Couric left, Meredith Vieira was hired instead in 2006.

"Beyond her 'Today' news anchor job, she had established herself as an intrepid, award-winning correspondent who traveled to war zones, grilled third-world dictators and U.S. presidents, and regularly put herself in harm's way in order to spotlight the world's disenfranchised, poverty-stricken, sickness-plagued and abused," Grove wrote.

Although Curry eventually became a co-host at "Today" in 2011, her public ouster from that show in 2012 garnered widespread attention due to the way it was handled on air.

"Curry's tearful goodbye from 'Today' in June 2012 famously sparked a backlash against the show and a furor over NBC's indelicate handling of the longtime anchor," Smith wrote.

According to The Daily Beast, NBC executives thought that Curry and Lauer lacked chemistry on television. Lauer has repeatedly denied any involvement in regards to Curry's removal from Today, which took a beating in the morning TV show ratings since the 2012 incident.

"Ann is very likable-she's a good person," a veteran NBC News executive told the Daily Beast, "but a lot of people at NBC didn't like that she and her representatives waged a campaign solely targeted at Matt Lauer and that it just never stopped. Whether she personally orchestrated it, I don't know, but there's no question she was involved."

In her defense, a source close to Curry disputed those assertions with The Daily Beast.

"We're not going to into a 'he said, she said' thing," the source said. "All I can tell you is people can say anything they want to minimize what Ann's done...but the facts speak for themselves. Ann's coming off a year where she's been nominated for five Emmys."

The source added that Curry "had an incredible year" and plans to take "that momentum into this new venture."

Curry, who has a half-Japanese background, is one of the few recognizable Asian-American journalists to reach mainstream status in the U.S. media landscape.

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