Pauley is best known as long-time morning broadcaster for NBC's
Today Show, an NBC news reporter, and, most recently, as
a co-host for NBC's popular news magazine, Dateline. Her
career began at the age of 21, when she was hired as daytime and
weekend caster at WISH-TV in Indianapolis. Four years later she
was appointed as the first woman to anchor the evening news at WMAQ,
Chicago. Despite low ratings, Pauley was selected in 1976 to interview
as a possible successor to Barbara Walters as Tom Brokaw's co-host
on NBC's Today. Competing with well-known reporters Linda
Ellerbee and Betty Rolin, Pauley was chosen for the position, shocking
the industry and disappointing critics who found her too cheery,
young and pretty. Though fans embraced Pauley for these qualities,
NBC News President Dick Wald defended Pauley's hire based on her
poise and control. Her honest address and family commitment, radically
different from the more reserved Diane Sawyer, made Pauley popular
with female baby-boomers. Pauley spent the next thirteen years co-hosting
Today. Her team ushered the program past ABC's Good Morning
America, to become the number one morning show in the United
NBC hired Bryant Gumble, a sportscaster with no news experience,
to succeed Tom Brokaw as head anchor, a compliant Pauley remained
in the co-anchor seat. Her career seemed to flounder still more
when renowned Washington reporters Chris Wallace and Judy Woodruff
joined the morning group, pushing Pauley to the periphery. Finally,
in 1989, NBC brought attractive, 31-year-old Debra Norville to the
Today team, to attract a youthful audience. Sensing she would
soon be replaced, Pauley threatened to break her $1.2 million
Today contract two years early, to which NBC responded with
the offer of Pauley's own prime-time magazine show. Despite that
she had prevailed in a long, hard-nosed battle, and achieved a notable
appointment, the media cast Pauley as a spurned wife, to the mistress
Norville. Nevertheless, Pauley departed gracefully with a sincere,
on-air good-bye to Norville, leaving the show's ratings to tumble
22% during sweeps week, and ultimately losing its number one spot
to Good Morning America.
this media soap opera, Pauley herself became the news item of the
day, appearing on talk shows, featured in magazines and on Life
magazine's cover which proclaimed: "How Jane Pauley Got What She
Wanted: Time for Her Kids, Prime Time for Herself." Pauley became
Deputy Anchor to Tom Brokaw on the NBC Nightly News, and
in 1989, her magazine pilot, Changes, received the highest ratings
in its prime time slot. Her subsequent 1991 Real Life with Jane
Pauley, featuring human interest reports for her traditional
audience, aired five successful summer segments. In pursuit of a
broader audience, the magazine was revamped in 1992 as Dateline
NBC, adding investigative reporting, and reporter Stone Philips
aboard as co-host. Dateline suffered a huge press attack
on its ethics when it was discovered that producers staged the explosion
of a General Motors truck for an auto safety report; viewers, however,
stayed tuned, and by 1995 Dateline was a consistent ratings
calling NBC's bluff, Pauley was catapulted to the ranks of other
women investigative TV reporters Maria Shriver, Connie Chung, and
Diane Sawyer. Nevertheless, Pauley continues to be framed by the
mass media and NBC as the maternal, baby-boom, career heroine of
TV news fame.
Photo courtesy of Jane Pauley
PAULEY. Born in Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S.A., 31 October 1950.
Educated at Indiana University, B.A. in political science 1971.
Married: Gary Trudeau (Doonesbury cartoonist); three children.
Began career as TV reporter, WISH-TV, Indianapolis, 1972-75; various
positions as reporter and anchor with NBC News programs since 1975.
Honorary degree: D. Journalism, DePauw University, 1978.
NBC News (correspondent)
1976-90 The Today Show (correspondent)
1980-82 NBC Nightly News (reporter/principal writer)
1982-83 Early Today (co-anchor)
1990- NBC Nightly News (substitute anchor)
1990-91 Real Life with Jane Pauley (principal correspondent)
1992- Dateline NBC (co-host)
Dateline." The Quill (Chicago), November-December 1994.
Steve. "Pauley Seeds Project: Task Force's Goal to Help Education."
The Quill (Chicago), March 1995.
William A., III. "Will NBC Make Jane an Anchor?" Time (New
York), 18 June 1990.
Phoebe. "The Loved One (Jane Pauley)" (interview). New York (New
York), 23 July 1990.
"Morning Becomes Pauley." Broadcasting (Washington, D.C.),
2 June 1986.
Harry F. "If It Ain't Broke, Break It." Newsweek (New York),
26 March 1990.
Richard. "Surviving Nicely, Thanks: When She Thought NBC Wanted
Her Out, Jane Pauley Prepared to Go Quietly, But the Public Uproar
Provided Revenge She Is too Ladylike to Savor." Time (New
York), 20 August 1990.