Ozy Media CEO Carlos Watson has informed the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences that he will no longer host the documentary portion of the 42nd News & Documentary Emmy Awards on Wednesday night.
Watson’s decision to step down comes following a New York Times report on Monday questioning the validity of Ozy’s various traffic claims, and revealing that Ozy co-founder Samir Rao had posed as a YouTube executive, touting Ozy’s success, during a conference call with Goldman Sachs bankers in February.
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“Carlos Watson has graciously reached out to us and asked to be removed from his hosting duties tomorrow night so as not to distract the focus from the talented nominees in the documentary categories of the 42nd News & Documentary Emmy Awards,” NATAS said in a statement.
Instead, the ceremony’s three presenters will instead share hosting dutires: Columbia Journalism School professor and documentary filmmaker June Cross; documentary filmmaker C.J. Hunt (“The Neutral Ground”) and documentary filmmaker (“The Slow Hustle”) and actor (“Body of Proof”) Sonja Sohn.
As previously announced, NATAS has split this year’s News & Documentary Emmy Awards will into two individual ceremonies: categories honoring TV news programming on Tuesday, September 28th, and categories honoring documentaries on Wednesday, September 29. Both ceremonies will be live-streamed at 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT on NATAS’ streaming platform, Watch.TheEmmys.TV.
Monday’s news ceremony is hosted by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, MSNBC’s Jonathan Capehart, ABC’s Juju Chang, CBS’ Norah O’Donnell, Univision’s Teresa Rodriquez, Vice’s Alzo Slade, PBS’ Stephanie Sy and Telemundo’s Julio Vaqueiro.
Watson co-founded Ozy, described as “a multi-platform media company that aims to help curious people see a broader and bolder world,” in 2013. He hosts “The Carlos Watson Show” for the service, which also operates the festival event OzyFest, and has been behind series such as PBS’ “Third Rail With Ozy” and “OWN Spotlight: Black Women OWN the Conversation,” which won a news Emmy last year.
But in the New York Times report written by Ben Smith, some of Ozy’s claims about its audience size have been called into question, including a 2019 press release that claimed 50 million monthly unique users.
Watson, however, told the newspaper that the growth was “the result of our team acting pretty fearlessly to launch and grow five newsletters, 12 TV shows, six podcasts, now four annual festivals starting next year, and the Ozy Genius Awards. Each of our verticals is thriving, and we stand completely behind our numbers and performance.”
It’s the Goldman Sachs incident that perhaps riled the most reaction, however: “Trying to fool the world’s most famous bank, even by the hype-ridden standards of the media business, is way over the line.” (Ozy blames Rao’s actions on a mental health crisis.)
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