The papers of Julian Goodman, an NBC broadcast pioneer who helped bring to life the network news programs we watch today, have been placed in Special Collections at the Jean and Alexander Heard Library.
Goodman began at NBC as a correspondent in 1945 during the formative years of television news. His experiences provided a solid understanding of the business as he worked his way up to president, chief executive officer and chairman until his retirement in 1979.
Goodman oversaw the rise of one of America’s best-known anchor teams, David Brinkley and Chet Huntley. Other highlights of Goodman’s career include producing the second of the televised “Great Debates” between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon and overseeing NBC News’ coverage of several presidential conventions. He pioneered the television newsmagazine format with David Brinkley’s Journal during the early ’60s. At age 44 he became the youngest president in NBC’s history.
“The Goodman papers are one of the anchors of our growing holdings of news leaders and political figures who shaped the news and lived at the center of so many important events of our time,” says Connie Vinita Dowell, dean of libraries. “Goodman’s archives are especially significant for us because the papers relate to and support the content of the Vanderbilt Television News Archive. All together, these print and media collections are a mark of distinction for Vanderbilt University.”
John Seigenthaler, founder of the First Amendment Center, former publisher of The Tennessean newspaper, and founding editorial director of USA Today, calls the Goodman papers an archival treasure. “For more than three decades, Julian Goodman’s work and leadership at NBC were a vital force in shaping, enlivening and enhancing the culture of our nation’s communications media,” Seigenthaler says. “The documents will enrich the work of researchers seeking to understand the unique impact television had on our society, our government and our politics in the second half of the 20th century.”
Goodman received numerous awards and honors through the years, including a George Foster Peabody Award in 1974 for his “outstanding work in the area of First Amendment rights and privileges for broadcasting.” The International Radio and Television Society awarded Goodman the Gold Medal, its highest honor, for his achievements in and contributions to broadcasting. He also received the prestigious National Association of Broadcasters Distinguished Service Award. In addition, Goodman was the second recipient, following President Lyndon Johnson, of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities’ Distinguished Alumni Award.
During an April 1989 NBC Nightly News story about the 50th anniversary of television, Goodman said, “We were inventing the rules as we played the game.” In 2010 the media world is much different than the one he helped mold during his years at NBC. But Goodman, 88, is philosophical about the technological revolution of better communication, faster reporting and fierce competition. “There are more opportunities to be inaccurate now,” he said. “But there are plenty of people to correct you. Your competition will correct you.”