Tuesday, November 29, 2022

News executive Richard Wald, who helped create ABC News, dies

NEW YORK ( Associated Press) — Richard Wald, a longtime journalist who helped make ABC News a powerhouse after a career in newspapers, has died. He was 92 years old.

Wald suffered a stroke either Sunday night or Monday morning and never regained consciousness before dying Friday at a hospital in New Rochelle, New York, his son, news executive Jonathan Wald, said.

After retiring from ABC News in 1999, the quirky, optimistic newshound took journalism education at his alma mater, Columbia University. He served on the boards of the Pulitzer Prize, DuPont-Columbia and Peabody Awards.

He worked for the now-defunct New York newspapers Herald Tribune and the World Journal Tribune as well as the Washington Post and oversaw “new journalism” stalwarts such as Jimmy Breslin, Thomas Wolfe and Gail Sheaey.

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In explaining why he joined NBC News in the late 1960s, Wald often said, “I didn’t leave the newspaper. The newspapers left me.”

He was president of NBC News from 1973 to 1977, where he installed Tom Brokaw and Jane Pauley as “Today” show hosts. He let screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky follow him for two days, and became the model for the network news president in the satirical film “Network”. Forced out at NBC due to tensions with his mentors, he joined ABC News and was the top deputy of mercurial Rune Earlage.

A sports executive who had been given authority over a struggling news division, Earlage had lots of ideas but little news experience. Wald, along with fellow executive David Burke, helped implement the good ideas, said Tom Bettag, a former executive producer of “Nightline”, a show that Wald had given a name to.

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“He was very excited, full of energy,” Bettag said.

With a team that included Peter Jennings, Diane Sawyer, Barbara Walters and Ted Koppel, ABC rose to the top of broadcast network news divisions at the height of their power, before their influence was diminished by 24-hour cable news and the Internet. Went.

“Wald was someone who knew the news business inside and out — not just television,” Bettag said.

Wald’s wife, Edith, 67, died in December. His family consists of three children and seven grandchildren.


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