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A Nose For News

A Nose For NewsTufts alum tapped as new president of NBC's top-rated news division. New York.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [05.14.01] Nine years ago, Neal Shapiro joined NBC with a tough challenge: save the network's sinking news magazine, "Dateline NBC." Twenty-five Emmys later, the Tufts graduate has been tapped again by NBC -- this time with a different challenge: maintain and expand the dominance of the network's top-rated news division.

On Thursday, NBC executives announced that Shapiro, a 1980 Tufts graduate, replaced Andy Lack as the new president of NBC News.

While he won't be rebuilding NBC News as he did with "Dateline," the Los Angeles Times reports that his new job will have an equally daunting challenge. "How to keep an already successful news division on top at a time when the relevance and role of network television news are changing rapidly."

"I think I'm lucky," Shapiro told New York's Newsday. "NBC News is in such a terrific position that there's nothing I need to immediately deal with."

In fact, NBC News is the highest rated news division in the country.

Newsday reported that "Nightly News With Tom Brokaw" has been the top-ranked nightly news broadcast for 53 consecutive weeks, while the "Today" show and "Meet The Press" have long held the top ratings in their time slots.

Instead, the veteran journalist said he plans to focus on the future.

"Long term, I have to try to grow the business -- that's our biggest challenge," he told Newsday.

NBC anchor Tom Brokaw agreed.

"One thing he's going to have to deal with it the trials of this economy and the effects its going to have on our business," Brokaw told Newsday.

But Shapiro has a long record of overcoming challenges.

When he joined NBC in 1993, "Dateline NBC" was in terrible shape. "The year-old program, which had finally given NBC a shot at a successful newsmagazine--after 17 previous failures--was reeling from the admission that producers had rigged footage for a report on exploding General Motors trucks," reported the Los Angeles Times. "NBC made a humiliating apology and several employees were fired."

Shapiro, a veteran journalist at ABC, was hired to revive the news program. And he did.

The Los Angeles Times credited Shapiro with expanding the show and restoring its credibility, which led to "25 Emmys, 19 Edward R Murrow Awards, and three Columbia-duPont Awards for distinguished journalism."

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