Media Moves

Veteran news executive at CBS, NBC, Small dies aged 93

May 26, 2020

Posted by Mariam Ahmed

William J. Small

Broadcast news executive William J. Small, who led CBS News’ Washington coverage and was later president of NBC News and United Press International, died Sunday at the age of 93.

The cause of his death was a brief illness, unrelated to the coronavirus, CBS reported.

During a six-decade career, Small supervised, guided and even hired generations of some of the best-known reporters and anchors in television news, among them:

  • Dan Rather
  • Eric Sevareid
  • “60 Minutes” correspondents Ed Bradley and Lesley Stahl

He even hired the current CBS News president, Susan Zirinsky, to her first job at the network. Zirinsky remembers Small as a “hero to journalism” and said, “every one of us carries Bill Small’s legacy with us — it’s the core to who we are as journalists.”

Small remained in charge of the Washington bureau until 1974, when the network moved him to a senior position at its New York headquarters. In addition, Small also served as chairman of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, which hands out Emmy Awards for television news and documentaries, retiring in 2010.

In 2014, the organization honored Small with its lifetime achievement award which recognized him as a television news icon whose work in Washington was “paramount in the dramatic evolution of network news that continues today.”

Apart from his other achievements, Small is the author of two books on the role of the media in politics and society, taught communications and media management at Fordham University and was on the sociology faculty at the University of Louisville.

Small and his late wife, Gish, had two daughters and six grandchildren.

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