We have just published the first-ever biography of legendary television executive Fred Friendly. In his book, Friendlyvision: Fred Friendly and the Rise and Fall of Television Journalism, Ralph Engleman examines Friendly’s immense impact on television news as well as his work at the Ford Foundation and the Columbia School of Journalism. Engleman’s portrait reveals a sometimes difficult individual who had frequent run-ins with his colleagues and came to be known as a “brilliant monster.” (He is also perhaps known through George Clooney’s portrayal in Good Night, and Good Luck.)
In the introduction to the book, Engleman writes:
Any assessment of the first four decades of television journalism—and its subsequent development to our own day—must reckon with the complex figure of Fred Friendly. Friendly remains the single most important person in the development of news and public affairs programming during the first four decades of American television, from the medium’s inception after World War II until well into the 1980s. His influence endures in countless ways. And the pitched battles he fought continue to resonate in the troubled world of contemporary broadcast journalism.
Upon his death in 1998, Charlie Rose hosted a special show remembering Fred Friendly with Ted Koppel and other journalists and network executives: