Veteran news executive Bill Small, who served as the Washington bureau chief of CBS News and president of NBC News, died on Sunday following a brief illness unrelated to the coronavirus, CBS News announced. He was 93.
Small led CBS News’ political coverage from 1962-1974, covering such major events as Watergate, Vietnam and the Civil Rights Movement. He pulled together a team of reporters from within CBS that included Dan Rather, Marvin Kalb, Dan Schorr, Harry Reasoner and Eric Sevareid, and made new hires including Bob Schieffer, Ed Bradley, Bernard Shaw, Bernard Kalb and Bill Moyers.
He also, CBS noted, championed a number of women in his time as Washington bureau chief, hiring Diane Sawyer, Connie Chung, Lesley Stahl, Martha Teichner, Rita Braver and Susan Spencer.
“Bill Small was a hero to journalism,” CBS News president Susan Zirinsky said in a statement. “He hired me as a 20-year-old college student to work the weekend desk in the Washington bureau two weeks after the Watergate break-in. He was tough as nails when it came to defending freedom of the press. He was strict, strong and full of conviction. But the man had a heart of gold — which he only revealed one-third of the time.”
He left CBS News to become president of NBC News in 1979. He brought CBS correspondents Roger Mudd and Kalb with him, and oversaw the transition as Tom Brokaw moved from host of the “Today” show to co-host of “NBC Nightly News” with Mudd.
He became president of United Press International in 1982, and was the Felix E. Larkin Professor of Communications and Director for the Center for Communications at Fordham University’s Graduate School of Business from 1986 to 1997. He also served as dean of Fordham’s Graduate School of Business from 1992 to 1994.
Small was chairman of news and documentary for the National Academy of Television Arts and Science from 2000 to 2010, and the organization honored him with a lifetime achievement award in 2014. His other honors include the James Madison Award of the National Broadcast Editorial Association, the Paul White Award, the Wells Key Award and the Society’s Distinguished Service Award for Research in Journalism, which he received twice.
He was also the author of two award-winning books, “To Kill a Messenger: Television and the Real World” and “Political Power and the Press.”
He was pre-deceased by his wife, Gish, and is survived by their two daughters, Tamar H. Small and Willa Small Kuh, and their spouses, and six grandchildren.