Former NBC News President Reuven Frank Dies

Feb 6, 2006  •  Post A Comment

Reuven Frank, who twice served as president of NBC News and who shaped the development of TV journalism and its ethics and aspirations, died Sunday night of pneumonia, according to sources close to the award winner who helped give the American public “The Huntley-Brinkley Report.” He was 85.

Mr. Frank served as president of NBC News from 1968 to 1972 and again from 1985 to 1987. He retired from NBC News in 1988 and in recent years was a frequent contributor to TelevisionWeek.

He was a newspaperman who joined NBC News as a writer in 1950. As a producer, he helped launch the 15-minute newscast pairing Chet Huntley and David Brinkley in 1956. He was the newscast’s executive producer in 1963 when the program was expanded to 30 minutes.

By then, he had added to his list of awards three Emmys for “The Tunnel,” a documentary about the escape of dozens of East Germans through a tunnel under the Berlin Wall.

“I had the privilege of starting my journalism career when Reuven was producing ‘The Huntley-Brinkley Report,’ which was a model of incisive reporting, astute analysis and engaging storytelling in a new medium that required a deft combination of the visual and the narrative form,” former “NBC Nightly News” anchor Tom Brokaw said in a statement Monday morning. “Those broadcasts became a school for a new generation of journalists coming of age in a new medium, and I am forever grateful for what I learned from him.

“Reuven had an uncanny ability to balance the serious imperatives of journalism with a keen appreciation for the absurd. As a result he was always not just wise, but entertaining. When he later selected me to be the sole anchor of ‘The NBC Nightly News,’ I was personally grateful and professionally proud to have earned his trust.”

NBC News said in a statement: “Reuven Frank was a giant of broadcast journalism, who in many ways was a founding father of the modern form of broadcast journalism.”

The funeral is to be held at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 8 at Temple Sinai, 1 Engle St., Tenafly, N.J.