NATIONAL ACADEMY MOURNS PASSING OF TV NEWS LEGEND BILL SMALL
Former CBS News, NBC News, and UPI executive led News & Documentary Emmy Awards® for a decade.
NEW YORK (May 24, 2020) — The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS) today mourns the passing of Bill Small, former CBS News Washington Bureau Chief, NBC News President, United Press International President, and Chairman of the News & Documentary Emmy Awards® from 2000 to 2010. Small died this morning after a brief illness unrelated to the coronavirus. He was 93.
“Bill Small was one of the ‘greats’ of our television news industry. In his time as a news executive at both NBC and CBS, he had an uncanny eye for talent and unwavering dedication to journalism,” said NATAS Chairman Terry O’Reilly. “Those who were brought to the network news world by Bill include: Marvin Kalb, Dan Rather, Bob Schieffer, Ed Bradley, Lesley Stahl, Diane Sawyer, Susan Zirinsky, Connie Chung, Martha Teichner, Bernard Shaw, and so many more. Later, in his decade as Chair of our News and Documentary Emmy® Awards, he was responsible for many important improvements — including introducing the Lifetime Achievement Award for News and Documentary television, an award he was to receive himself in 2014.”
“As a bureau chief, network president, NATAS leader, and newsman to the core, Bill Small mentored some the greatest television news talent to ever grace the airwaves, and he brought the same incomparable zeal and commitment to excellence to developing our National Office staff,” said Adam Sharp, NATAS President and CEO. “He was a titan of television journalism, nurturing the first amendment in many a fledging reporter and guiding the coverage of some of the seminal moments of our country’s history. The Academy and the broadcast news industry has lost of one of its seminal heroes. We extend our prayers and condolences to his family and to all those gifted by his gracious tutelage.”
Bill Small built the CBS Washington bureau into a journalistic powerhouse. He staffed it with a roster of talent perhaps unmatched to this day. He began by recruiting talent from within CBS: Eric Sevareid, Marvin Kalb, Daniel Schorr, Harry Reasoner, Dan Rather. Recruiting from outside CBS, he gave many distinguished producers and reporters their first commercial network news positions: Bob Schieffer, Ed Bradley, Bernard Shaw, Bill Moyers, Bernard Kalb, Tom Bettag, and many others. In addition, Mr. Small’s aggressive recruitment of women journalists diversified the bureau at a time when women were extremely underrepresented in network news. Diane Sawyer, Lesley Stahl, Susan Zirinsky, Connie Chung, Martha Teichner and Rita Braver were among the many women brought into the profession during Mr. Small’s tenure at CBS.
Roger Mudd, in his 2009 book “The Place to Be: Washington, CBS, and the Glory Days of Television News” described the CBS Washington bureau of the time as so dominating “the network’s news division that it became almost an independent duchy.” Mr. Small created the conditions in which top-notch producers and reporters could do their best work, and oversaw distinguished coverage of some of the most important and historic events of the second half of the twentieth century: The assassination and funeral of John F. Kennedy; the Civil Rights Movement including the March on Washington and the filibuster of the 1964 Civil Rights Act in the Senate; the escalation of the war in Vietnam and its impact in Washington; President Nixon’s trip to China; and Watergate.
In 1979 Mr. Small was named President of NBC News, bringing with him CBS correspondents Roger Mudd and Marvin Kalb, among others. Mr. Small facilitated the transition of Tom Brokaw from host of the Today Show to co-anchor, along with Roger Mudd, of the NBC Nightly News, when John Chancellor stepped down in 1982. He also oversaw coverage of the Iran hostage crisis and the election of Ronald Reagan.
In 1982 he became President of United Press International, the nation’s second largest news agency. From 1986 to 1999 he was the Felix E. Larkin Professor of Communications at Fordham University, where he developed an MBA program in media management. From 1992 to 1994 He served as a Dean of Fordham’s Graduate School of Business. From 2000 to 2010 he served as Chairman of News and Documentary for the National Academy of Television Arts and Science.
Mr. Small was the author of two award-winning books, “To Kill a Messenger: Television and the Real World” (Hasting House, NY, 1970) and “Political Power and the Press” (W.W. Norton, NY, 1972). He served as the National President of the Radio-TV News Directors Association and the Society of Professional Journalists, Sigma Delta Chi. He served on the Executive Board of the National Association of Broadcasters and the Washington Journalism Center.
Among the many awards Mr. Small received were the James Madison Award of the National Broadcast Editorial Association, the Paul White Award (highest award of the Radio-TV News Directors Association), and the Wells Key Award (highest award of the Society of Professional Journalists). He twice received the Society’s Distinguished Service Award for Research in Journalism.
The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS) is a service organization dedicated to the advancement of the arts and sciences of television and the promotion of creative leadership for artistic, educational, and technical achievements within the television industry. It recognizes excellence in television with the coveted Emmy® Awards for News & Documentary, Sports, and Daytime television programming, as well as achievements in television Technology & Engineering. NATAS membership consists of more than 18,000 broadcast and media professionals represented in 19 regional chapters across the United States. Beyond awards, NATAS provides extensive educational programs through its foundation, including regional and national scholarships and Student Production Awards.
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B. Harlan Boll