The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences to Honor William J. Small, Former CBS Washington Bureau Chief and President of NBC News, With Lifetime Achievement Award at the News & Documentary Emmy Awards

Jul 14, 2014  •  Post A Comment

Press release from NATAS, Monday, July 14, 2014:

William J. Small, the legendary CBS News Washington Bureau chief from 1962-1974, and later President of NBC News, President of United Press International, Dean of Fordham’s Graduate School of Business, and Chairman of News & Documentary at the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS), will receive the prestigious Lifetime Achievement award at the 35th Annual News & Documentary Emmy Awards. The award will be presented on Tuesday, September 30, 2014, at Frederick P. Rose Hall, Home of Jazz at Lincoln Center, located in Time Warner Center in New York City.

"Bill Small is an icon in the television news industry," said Chuck Dages, Chairman, NATAS. "As Bureau Chief of the CBS Washington News office throughout the 60's and 70's, he was paramount in the dramatic evolution of network news that continues today. Recruiting the likes of Dan Rather, Bob Schieffer, Bill Moyers, Ed Bradley, Diane Sawyer and Lesley Stahl among many others, he changed not only who we watched each evening but how."

The CBS Washington bureau of the 1960’s and 70’s was one of the most distinguished in the history of modern broadcast journalism. Bill Small assumed control of the bureau at a crucial time in the evolution of broadcast news. Television was in the process of cementing its dominance over radio and print as the primary medium for news and information, and in 1963, shortly after Mr. Small’s arrival in Washington, the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite was expanded from 15 minutes to 1/2 an hour. This, coupled with the explosion of historic and newsworthy events of the era — the Civil Rights Movement, Vietnam, Watergate — led to an increase in the demand for national television news coverage. Bill Small, as an extremely talented, powerful and effective bureau chief, ensured that the bureau and the network would cover the events of the era with distinction.

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. 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” describes 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 is 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 has served as the National President of the Radio-TV News Directors Association and the Society of Professional Journalists, Sigma Delta Chi. He has been on the Executive Board of the National Association of Broadcasters and the Washington Journalism Center.

Among the many awards Mr. Small has received are 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 has twice received the Society’s Distinguished Service Award for Research in Journalism.

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