Top MSNBC editor battled cancer
This obituary was updated at 7:12 p.m.
Veteran newsman Jerry Nachman, who spent the last two years as vice president and editor-in-chief at news cabler MSNBC, has died. He was 57.
Nachman, who had battled cancer over the past year, died Monday night at his home in Hoboken, N.J. He had most recently covered the Michael Jackson case for MSNBC, last appearing on the channel Dec. 13.
Insiders said it was unlikely the channel would fill the veepee/editor-in-chief position, which was created for Nachman when he joined MSNBC in April 2002.
“Jerry was well-informed, candid, witty and charming,” said NBC chairman-CEO Bob Wright. “He was also a gifted newsman and executive, and his passing is a loss not just to NBC but to the entire profession.”
Nachman’s time at MSNBC included hosting his own program, in addition to reporting and managerial responsibilities. He got back into hard news after dabbling on the entertainment side, working as a staff writer and later as an exec producer for ABC’s “Politically Incorrect With Bill Maher” as well as writing for the NBC drama “UC: Undercover.”
“UC” exec producer Shane Solerno said he was struck by the news – and had considered Nachman a mentor, even though he was technically Nachman’s boss on the show.
“He really played a big role in my life,” Salerno said. “When Jerry came on my show I was 28, and he was 55. I was his boss, but I’m the one who learned everything. I was his student. He took me udner his wing in a very unusual way.”
While other figures may have bristled at going from lofty executive positions to a staff writer job, Nachman “looked at it as another adventure in his life,” Salerno said.
“He really relished that year being a mentor to all these younger guys,” Salerno said. “People would go to his office to learn. It was a unique and special time in his life.”
But he was best known for his lengthy and varied journalism career, which included stints as news director for WNBC-TV, New York; VP of news at WCBS-TV, New York; and editor of the New York Post.
Nachman also reported for both WCBS radio and WCBS-TV, wrote a column for the Post and was VP and general manager at NBC’s WRC-TV and WRC radio in Washington, D.C.
“Jerry Nachman will be remembered not only for what he brought to the news — insight, context and a relentless search for the truth — but also for what he brought to the newsroom — integrity, tenacity and a refreshing splash of humor,” said NBC News prexy Neal Shapiro.
Nachman, whose larger-than-life appearance and personality were frequently marketed by his news operations, picked up plaudits including the Peabody Award, the Radio-Television News Directors Assn.’s Edward R. Murrow Award and an Emmy Award.
“His passion for news was contagious,” said MSNBC prexy/G.M. Erik Sorenson. “All of us will fondly remember Jerry’s many wonderful stories about his colorful years in the news business. We will miss him greatly.”