Journalist, , broadcaster, writer, editor-in-chief, MSNBC
Jerry Nachman, once described in the New York Times as a, “hard-boiled, roll-up-your-sleeves, DiNobili-chomping news hound,” was born in New York City in 1946. His parents divorced when he was 5 years old and his mother remarried 5 years later, relocating 10 year old Jerry to Pittsburgh to be with her and her new husband, an Italian chef. In recounting his childhood, Nachman praised his parents and stepfather for working out a relationship amongst themselves that allowed all three of them to be involved in his upbringing. While none of his parents graduated from high school, they supported his decision to attend Youngstown State University. After graduation, he landed his first job in 1965 at a small Ohio newspaper but left soon after, returning to New York as a news reporter for WCBS radio and WCBS/Channel 2. He went on to work as a news executive in both Washington and San Francisco before settling back in New York City as the news director for WNBC-TV. Nachman’s career would be characterized by frequent changes in venue and media (he would work in print, radio, TV, and cable news) but he would always work in the news industry.
Nachman left his job as Vice President, News, WCBS-TV, New York to become a police reporter and political columnist at The New York Post. He became Editor-in-Chief of that paper in 1989. The three years he worked as editor of the Post secured his reputation as an old-school journalist, more interested in integrity than in sales and ratings. In 1993, Nachman and his wife relocated to Santa Fe where he took the position of MSNBC Vice President and Editor-in-Chief. By the time Nachman had taken this position, he had been in the news business since age 19, had held 10 different positions in a span of 21 years.
In 2003, Nachman announced on air that he was fighting gall bladder cancer. He died in his home in Hoboken, New Jersey, in 2004. While not unexpected, Nachman’s death was felt throughout the news industry in which had worked in so many capacities. In his company’s announcement of Nachman’s death, Bob Wright, GE Vice Chairman and NBC Chairman and CEO described the famously gruff Nachman as, “well-informed, candid, witty, and charming…a gifted newsman and executive [whose] passing is a loss not just to NBC but to the entire profession.” Neal Shapiro, then NBC News President, wrote in the same press release that Nachman would “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.” By the time of his death, Nachman’s awards would include the Peabody Award, an Edward R. Murrow Award from the Radio-Television News Directors Association and an Emmy Award. He served twice as a Pulitzer Prize Juror in the Journalism competition.