W. Friendly, a pioneering CBS News producer and distinguished media
scholar, enjoyed a sixty-year career as remarkable for its longevity
as for its accomplishments. As the technically creative and dramatically
inspired producer for CBS correspondent Edward R. Murrow, Friendly
helped enliven and popularize television news documentary in the
decade after World War II, when television news was still in its
infancy. After resigning from CBS as its News Division president
in 1966, Friendly found a second career as an author and as creator
of a series of moderated seminars on media and society.
got his start in broadcasting during the Great Depression with a
staff position at a small radio station in Providence, Rhode Island.
It was as a successful radio producer that Friendly was teamed with
Murrow in the late 1940s to create a series of documentary albums
entitled I Can Hear It Now. When Murrow made the jump to television
reporting, he brought Friendly with him as his principal documentary
producer. Armed with a flair for the dramatic and his experience
as a technical innovator in radio, Friendly set out to do for television
what he had already done for radio documentaries. The result, in
1952, was the debut of the highly-acclaimed See It Now, a
weekly series hosted by Murrow that broke new ground with its intrepid
probing into subjects of serious socio-political significance and
its stunning visual style. The successful combination of Friendly's
energy and Murrow's stature hit its professional peak in 1954, with
their decision to broadcast a documentary attack on Senator Joseph
McCarthy that helped change the tide of popular opinion against
the anti-communist demagogue.
his later years at CBS, Friendly was given broader responsibility
to create a variety of news programs, including the landmark hourly
documentary series, CBS Reports, and a political forum that
would later be known as Face the Nation. As president of
CBS News in the mid-1960s, Friendly struggled to keep his news division
independent of profit-conscious and entertainment-oriented corporate
decision-making at CBS Inc., which he considered a threat to the
autonomy and integrity of his news operations. In March of 1966,
Friendly argued vociferously to management that CBS had a journalistic
obligation to carry extensive live coverage of the first Senate
hearings to question American involvement in Vietnam. When the network
opted instead to air re-runs of I Love Lucy, Friendly resigned from
CBS in protest.
in his post-CBS years, turned his interests to writing and teaching
about media and law. In a span of twenty years, Friendly authored
several books that traced the history of people involved in landmark
Supreme Court cases, including Minnesota Rag, The Good Guys,
The Bad Guys and the First Amendment, and The Constitution:
That Delicate Balance. At the Ford Foundation in the mid-1970s
and, later, as the Edward R. Murrow Professor of Broadcast Journalism
at Columbia University, Friendly collaborated with some of the country's
leading lawyers, journalists and politicians to create a series
of roundtable debates on media and society. Now known as The Fred
Friendly Seminars, broadcasts of these programs became a fixture
of the Public Broadcasting Service.
Fred W. Friendly
Photo courtesy of Fred W. Friendly
FRIENDLY. Born Ferdinand Friendly Wachenheimer in New York City,
New York, U.S.A., 1915. Educated at Cheshire Academy and Nichols
Junior College. Married: Ruth W. Mark; two sons, one daughter (from
previous marriage), and three stepsons. Served in U.S. Army, Information
and Education Section, 1941-45. Broadcast producer, journalist for
WEAN radio, Providence, Rhode Island, 1937-41; wrote, produced,
and narrated radio series Footprints in the Sands of Time,
1938, later, at NBC, Who Said That, quiz based on quotations
of famous people; collaborated with Edward R. Murrow in presenting
oral history of 1932-45 (recorded by Columbia Records under title
I Can Hear It Now); I Can Hear It Now: The Sixties with
Walter Cronkite; editor and correspondent in India, Burma, and
China for CBI Roundup, 1941-45; co-producer, CBS radio series Hear
It Now, 1951, and CBS TV series See It Now, 1952-55;
past executive producer, with Edward R. Murrow, CBS TV show CBS
Reports, 1959-60; president, CBS News, New York, 1964-66; Edward
R. Murrow professor emeritus broadcast journalist Columbia University
Graduate School of Journalism, and director, Seminars on Media and
Society, since 1966; adviser on communications, Ford Foundation,
1966-80; director, Michele Clark Program for minority journalists,
Columbia University, 1968-75; member, Mayor's Task Force on CATV
and Telecommunications, New York City, 1968; distinguished visiting
professor, Bryn Mawr College, 1981; visiting professor, Yale University,
1984; commissioner, Charter Revision Committee for City of New York,
1986-90; Montgomery fellow, Dartmouth College, 1986. Honorary degrees:
Grinnell College, University of Rhode Island; New School for Social
Research; Brown University; Carnegie-Mellon University; Columbia
College, Chicago; Columbia University; Duquesne University; New
York Law School; University of Southern Utah; College of Wooster,
Ohio; University of Utah. Member: American Association of University
Professors; Association for Education in Journalism. Military awards:
Decorated Legion of Merit and four battle stars; Soldier's Medal
for heroism. Recipient: 35 major awards for See It Now, including
Overseas Press Club, Page One Award, New York Newspaper Guild, and
National Headliners Club Award, 1954; 40 major awards for CBS Reports;
10 Peabody Awards for TV production; numerous awards from journalism
schools; DeWitt Carter Reddick Award, 1980.
1952-55 See It Now
1958-59 Small World
1959-60 CBS Reports
1980- Media and Society Seminars
1986 Managing Our Miracles: Healthcare
in America (moderator)
1989 Ethics in America
reporter, correspondent: WEAN, Providence, Rhode Island, 1937-41;
NBC Radio, 1932-45, CBS Radio, 1951.
See It Now, edited with Edward R. Murrow. New York: Simon and
to Circumstances Beyond Our Control. New York: Random House,
The Good Guys, The Bad Guys, The First Amendment. New York:
Random House, 1975.
Rag, with Martha J.H. Elliott. New York: Random House, 1981.
Constitution: That Delicate Balance. New York: Random House,
"Bar Association Honors Fred Friendly (American Bar Association
Lifetime Achievement Gavel Award)." The New York Times, 12
Peter J. Who Killed CBS?: The Undoing of America's Number One
News Network. New York: Random House, 1988.
Gary Paul. Air Time: The Inside Story of CBS News. New York:
Harper and Row, 1978.
Alexander. Prime Time: The Life of Edward R. Murrow. Boston:
Little, Brown, 1969
Karen. "Ethics on TV." ABA Journal (Chicago), January 1989.
David. On and Off the Air: An Informal History of CBS News.
New York: Dutton, 1989.
A. M. Murrow, His Life and Times. New York: Freundlich, 1986.
Broadcasting System; Murrow,
Edward R.; Person
to Person; See