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Shapiro Resigns As NBC News President

Shapiro Resigns As NBC News PresidentAfter four years as president of NBC News, Tufts graduate Neal Shapiro stepped down from his position this month with a desire to seek new, more creative challenges.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [09.15.05] For more than a decade, Neal Shapiro has been a fixture at NBC – working his way up through the network en route to the top spot at the helm of NBC News. But earlier this month, the 1980 Tufts graduate announced he was stepping down from his post in order to take on new challenges.

“[He] said he missed ‘the kind of creativity I’ve had in previous jobs…It’s time to move on to a new challenge,” USA Today reported in an article detailing Shapiro’s announcement to his staff.

Though Shapiro didn’t give a specific reason for leaving, USA Today reported that his resignation came “after months of media speculation.”

NBC tapped the veteran journalist to run its news division in 2001. He began working at the network nine years earlier when he was hired as the executive producer of “Dateline” and charged with reviving the news magazine after its credibility had been damaged by a scandal involving rigged footage for a report on exploding General Motors trucks.

Shapiro – who was honored with Tufts “Light on the Hill” award in 2002 - nursed the news magazine’s recovery and transformed “Dateline” into an award-winning show. During his tenure, the news program garnered more that 25 Emmys as well as 19 Edward R. Murrow Awards, and three Columbia-duPont Awards for distinguished journalism.

As president of the news division, Shapiro faced other challenges, including the retirement of “Nightly News” anchor Tom Brokaw in 2004. The smooth transition from Brokaw to current anchor Brian Williams kept “Nightly News” on top of the ratings charts and the program remains the nation’s most-watched newscast today.

In the email announcing his resignation, Shapiro “expressed a yearning to return to a more hands-on role consistent with his previous responsibilities,” according to a recent article in the New York Times.

Creativity is one of Shapiro’s specialties, Steve Friedman, former executive producer of “Dateline” and “Today,” told the Times.

“Neal is a nice guy and feels his job is to nourish the creative process,” Friedman said to the Times. “When you run a news division, your job isn’t only that. You need to balance talent egos, and shows versus shows. It’s a lot bigger job,” he added. “[Shapiro] inspired people because he had a calmness about him. But, sometimes, in these jobs, you’ve got to kick people in the rear.”

According to the Times, Shapiro, who will speak at next month’s Tufts Lawyers Association reception in Boston, explained in his communication to staff that he is uncertain what the future will bring.

“[Shapiro] added ‘As for me, I don’t know what’s next, whether it’s at NBC Universal or elsewhere,’” the Times reported.












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