Julian Goodman’s archival treasure comes to library
Longtime NBC President and Chairman of the Board Julian Goodman, whose accomplished news career includes the Huntley/Brinkley years and the Nixon/Kennedy debates and beyond, has deposited his papers in the Vanderbilt Libraries Special Collections.
“The addition of Julian Goodman’s papers affirms Vanderbilt’s standing as an international resource for American news and the American view of history,” said Dean of Libraries Connie Vinita Dowell. 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. Goodman’s archives are especially significant for us because their papers relate to and support the content of the Vanderbilt Television News Archives. All together, these print and media collections are a mark of distinction for Vanderbilt University.”
Goodman, now 88, sees the media world as a different planet today—an unending news cycle, hundreds of cable networks, outspoken commentators, millions of websites. But he is philosophical about the technological revolution of better communication, faster reporting and fierce competition.
“There are more opportunities to be inaccurate now,” he says. “But there are plenty of people to correct you. Your competition will correct you.”
Goodman’s papers reflect the business of broadcasting from 1945, when he started as a news writer, through his 1979 retirement at the helm of the network. The content of the collection
will support and inform how scholars understand the NBC news broadcasts of the early years of the Television News Archive, particularly the period from 1968 to 1974. John Seigenthaler (founder of the Freedom Forum First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt, former editor, publisher and chairman of The Tennessean, and founding editorial director of USA Today), agrees that Goodman’s collection will complement the focus of the archives.
“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 said. “The gift of his papers to Vanderbilt is an archival treasure. 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. Constitutional scholars will find Julian’s courageous stand for rights of free expression of particular interest. The papers provide yet another dimension to the magnetic appeal of the TV News Archives created by Vanderbilt more than 40 years ago.”
Goodman, a native of Glasgow, Ky., became NBC’s youngest president at 44. He was chief of network news during its heyday, nurturing the talent of star newscaster David Brinkley and overseeing one of the great anchor teams in TV history, Brinkley and Chet Huntley. He pioneered the TV newsmagazine format (ahead of 60 Minutes) with the award-winning David Brinkley’s Journal in the early 1960s.
During the 1960 national election campaign, Goodman produced the second broadcast of “The Great Debates” between presidential candidates John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon and later earned a spot on then-President Nixon’s infamous enemies list.
Honors have been heaped upon Goodman during his long career. In 1974 he was honored with a George Foster Peabody Award for his “outstanding work in the area of First Amendment rights and privileges for broadcasting.” In 1976 he received broadcasting’s most prestigious honor, the National Association of Broadcaster’s Distinguished Service Award, for his work as a “broadcast journalist, program innovator and industry leader.” He has also been honored in the academic world, winning the Distinguished Alumni Award from the American Association of State Colleges and Universities and the Outstanding Alumnus of Kentucky award from the Kentucky Advocates for Higher Education.
Brinkley summed up the career of his close friend and longtime boss on the national news upon the occasion of Goodman’s retirement in 1979.
“Julian Goodman came to work at NBC in 1945 as a news writer, back in the days of steam radio (“steam radio” was a term coined in the U.K. in the early 1950s to describe radio as old-fashioned in comparison to television) when the news was read by announcers,” Brinkley said. “Well, from there he rose to president and board chairman of NBC and to becoming one of the most admired and respected people in broadcasting. Along the way, he, as much as anyone, helped to make NBC News and all television news, a useful and reliable service to the public.”
Goodman and his wife, Betty, live in Jupiter, Fla.
photo credit: Photos from the Julian Goodman Papers, Vanderbilt University Special Collections