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John Chancellor

John Chancellor

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John William Chancellor (July 14, 1927 – July 12, 1996) was a well-known American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 journalist
Journalist
A journalist collects and distributes news and other information. A journalist's work is referred to as journalism.A reporter is a type of journalist who researchs, writes, and reports on information to be presented in mass media, including print media , electronic media , and digital media A...

 who spent most of his career with NBC News
NBC News
NBC News is the news division of American television network NBC. It first started broadcasting in February 21, 1940. NBC Nightly News has aired from Studio 3B, located on floors 3 of the NBC Studios is the headquarters of the GE Building forms the centerpiece of 30th Rockefeller Center it is...

. He served as anchor of the NBC Nightly News
NBC Nightly News
NBC Nightly News is the flagship daily evening television news program for NBC News and broadcasts. NBC Nightly News has aired from Studio 3B, located on floors 3 of the NBC Studios is the headquarters of the GE Building forms the centerpiece of 30th Rockefeller Center it is located in the center...

from 1970 to 1982 and continued to do editorials and commentaries for NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw until 1993.

Early career


Chancellor attended the University of Illinois Navy Pier campus (precursor to UIC
University of Illinois at Chicago
The University of Illinois at Chicago, or UIC, is a state-funded public research university located in Chicago, Illinois, United States. Its campus is in the Near West Side community area, near the Chicago Loop...

) which specified completing the last two years of instruction at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
The University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign is a large public research-intensive university in the state of Illinois, United States. It is the flagship campus of the University of Illinois system...

 in 1949. Originally a reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
The Chicago Sun-Times is an American daily newspaper published in Chicago, Illinois. It is the flagship paper of the Sun-Times Media Group.-History:The Chicago Sun-Times is the oldest continuously published daily newspaper in the city...

, he first started his career in national television news as a correspondent on NBC's evening newscast, the Huntley-Brinkley Report
Huntley-Brinkley Report
The Huntley-Brinkley Report was the NBC television network's flagship evening news program from October 29, 1956 until July 31, 1970. It was anchored by Chet Huntley in New York City, and David Brinkley in Washington, D.C...

.

Early years, NBC/Voice of America



Chancellor covered issues of national importance while on The Huntley-Brinkley Report, such as the 1957 integration of the Little Rock Central High School. He spent a number of years as a foreign correspondent in Europe, with postings in Vienna
Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

, London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

, Moscow
Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

, and Brussels
Brussels
Brussels , officially the Brussels Region or Brussels-Capital Region , is the capital of Belgium and the de facto capital of the European Union...

 (NATO Headquarters).

In July 1961, Chancellor replaced Dave Garroway
Dave Garroway
David Cunningham "Dave" Garroway was the founding host of NBC's Today from 1952 to 1961. His easygoing, relaxed, and relaxing style belied a battle with depression that may have contributed to the end of his days as a leading television personality—and, eventually, his life...

 as host of NBC's Today program, a role he filled for fourteen months. Never comfortable with the genial persona required of a Today anchor, Chancellor asked for, and was granted, a release from his contract with the show in the summer of 1962. He left the program in September, and assumed a role as political correspondent for NBC News. He, Frank McGee, Edwin Newman
Edwin Newman
Edwin Harold Newman was an American newscaster, journalist and author.-Early life and education:Newman was born on January 25, 1919 in New York City to Myron and Rose Newman. His older brother was M. W. Newman, a longtime reporter for the Chicago Daily News. Newman married Rigel Grell on August...

, and Sander Vanocur
Sander Vanocur
Sander "Sandy" Vanocur is an American journalist.- Career :Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Vanocur moved to Peoria, Illinois when he was twelve years old. After attending Western Military Academy in Alton, Illinois, he earned a bachelor's degree in political science from the Northwestern...

 comprised a team that covered the national political conventions in the 1960s so well, they were dubbed by industry observers as the "Four Horsemen."

At the 1964 Republican National Convention
1964 Republican National Convention
The 1964 National Convention of the Republican Party of the United States took place in the Cow Palace, San Francisco, California, on July 13 to July 16, 1964. Before 1964, there had only been one national Republican convention on the West Coast...

, he was arrested for refusing to cede his spot on the floor to "Goldwater Girls," supporters of the Republican presidential candidate, Barry Goldwater
Barry Goldwater
Barry Morris Goldwater was a five-term United States Senator from Arizona and the Republican Party's nominee for President in the 1964 election. An articulate and charismatic figure during the first half of the 1960s, he was known as "Mr...

. When security came to get him, he was forced to sign off: "I've been promised bail
Bail
Traditionally, bail is some form of property deposited or pledged to a court to persuade it to release a suspect from jail, on the understanding that the suspect will return for trial or forfeit the bail...

, ladies and gentlemen, by my office. This is John Chancellor, somewhere in custody." He then became the director of the Voice of America
Voice of America
Voice of America is the official external broadcast institution of the United States federal government. It is one of five civilian U.S. international broadcasters working under the umbrella of the Broadcasting Board of Governors . VOA provides a wide range of programming for broadcast on radio...

 in 1965, at the request of President Lyndon Johnson, a spot he held until 1967.

Anchor, NBC Nightly News


However, he returned to NBC
NBC
The National Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network and former radio network headquartered in the GE Building in New York City's Rockefeller Center with additional major offices near Los Angeles and in Chicago...

 in 1968 as senior correspondent on the Huntley-Brinkley Report and, two years later, became an anchor on the NBC Nightly News, a spot he held from 1970 to 1982; this job became the defining point of his career. Inaugurating the name and setting the pace of the format of Nightly News, from 1970 to 1971, Chancellor, along with David Brinkley
David Brinkley
David McClure Brinkley was an American newscaster for NBC and ABC in a career lasting from 1943 to 1997....

 and McGee, was one of three anchor
News presenter
A news presenter is a person who presents news during a news program in the format of a television show, on the radio or the Internet.News presenters can work in a radio studio, television studio and from remote broadcasts in the field especially weather...

s who rotated in a co-anchor duo format, held over from Huntley-Brinkley. NBC arranged the rotation by having McGee always broadcast from New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 and Brinkley continue at his customary Washington
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

 desk. If McGee did not anchor on a broadcast, Chancellor did from New York; if Brinkley did not, Chancellor filled in from Washington. NBC did not have separate weekend anchors during this period, as it had just inaugurated a Sunday evening newscast in August 1970, so this format was employed seven days a week.

A perceived lack of stability in this arrangement prompted NBC to go with Chancellor full time (McGee later moved to The Today Show). From August 9, 1971 to June 4, 1976, Chancellor became the sole weeknight anchor (Garrick Utley
Garrick Utley
Garrick Utley is an American TV journalist. He established his career reporting about the Vietnam War and has the distinction of being the first full-time television correspondent covering the war on-site.-Early life:...

 and others took over weekend duties), stationed at the New York NBC headquarters, with Brinkley reduced to contributing pre-recorded commentaries, titled David Brinkley's Journal, about two to three times per week from Washington. Facing the continued popularity of top-rated CBS Evening News
CBS Evening News
CBS Evening News is the flagship nightly television news program of the American television network CBS. The network has broadcast this program since 1948, and has used the CBS Evening News title since 1963....

with Walter Cronkite
Walter Cronkite
Walter Leland Cronkite, Jr. was an American broadcast journalist, best known as anchorman for the CBS Evening News for 19 years . During the heyday of CBS News in the 1960s and 1970s, he was often cited as "the most trusted man in America" after being so named in an opinion poll...

, NBC Nightly News returned to a co-anchor format from June 7, 1976 until October 9, 1979 with Brinkley resuming his old role at the NBC Washington
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

 desk; internal disputes within NBC management prompted the network to remove Brinkley from Nightly News, assigning him to occasional documentaries until his departure for ABC in 1981.

Although Chancellor was a respected, well-spoken journalist and noted author in his own right, his broadcast ratings were eclipsed by Walter Cronkite
Walter Cronkite
Walter Leland Cronkite, Jr. was an American broadcast journalist, best known as anchorman for the CBS Evening News for 19 years . During the heyday of CBS News in the 1960s and 1970s, he was often cited as "the most trusted man in America" after being so named in an opinion poll...

 in the 1970s, when CBS Evening News had become the most popular of the three network weeknight broadcasts. Toward the end of Chancellor's tenure, ABC
American Broadcasting Company
The American Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network. Created in 1943 from the former NBC Blue radio network, ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Company and is part of Disney-ABC Television Group. Its first broadcast on television was in 1948...

, for the first time ever, became competitive with NBC and CBS with its World News Tonight
World News with Charles Gibson
ABC World News is the flagship daily evening program of ABC News, the news division of the American Broadcasting Company television network in the United States. Currently, the weekday editions are anchored by Diane Sawyer and the weekend editions are anchored by David Muir. The program has been...

.

"Red" and "blue" state concepts


Chancellor does have the distinction of creating the idea of using colors to represent the states won by presidential candidates in presidential elections. For the 1976 presidential election Chancellor suggested to his network's engineers that they create a large electronic map of the United States and place it in the network's election-night news studio. If Jimmy Carter
Jimmy Carter
James Earl "Jimmy" Carter, Jr. is an American politician who served as the 39th President of the United States and was the recipient of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize, the only U.S. President to have received the Prize after leaving office...

, the Democratic candidate, won a state it would light up in red; if Gerald Ford
Gerald Ford
Gerald Rudolph "Jerry" Ford, Jr. was the 38th President of the United States, serving from 1974 to 1977, and the 40th Vice President of the United States serving from 1973 to 1974...

, the Republican candidate, carried a state it would light up in blue. When ABC began using a color scheme four years later, it reversed the colors because "Republican" and "red" both began with "R," and its scheme eventually became the standard for all networks.

Later years, post-Nightly News


Chancellor anchored the Nightly News through April 2, 1982, when he was succeeded by a co-anchor team of Tom Brokaw
Tom Brokaw
Thomas John "Tom" Brokaw is an American television journalist and author best known as the anchor and managing editor of NBC Nightly News from 1982 to 2004. He is the author of The Greatest Generation and other books and the recipient of numerous awards and honors...

 and Roger Mudd
Roger Mudd
Roger Mudd is a U.S. television journalist and broadcaster, most recently as the primary anchor for The History Channel. Previously, Mudd was weekend and weekday substitute anchor of CBS Evening News, co-anchor of the weekday NBC Nightly News, and hosted NBC's Meet the Press, and NBC's American...

. Brokaw became sole anchor a year and a half later. Chancellor remained on the program, providing editorial commentaries before retiring from NBC on July 9, 1993.

Chancellor was the narrator of Baseball
Baseball (documentary)
Baseball is an 18½ hour, Emmy Award-winning documentary series by Ken Burns about the game of baseball. First broadcast on PBS, this was Burns' ninth documentary.- Format :...

, an award winning documentary by Ken Burns
Ken Burns
Kenneth Lauren "Ken" Burns is an American director and producer of documentary films, known for his style of using archival footage and photographs...

. He also wrote a book, Peril and Promise, which was published in 1991. Upon retiring, Chancellor moved to New Jersey
New Jersey
New Jersey is a state in the Northeastern and Middle Atlantic regions of the United States. , its population was 8,791,894. It is bordered on the north and east by the state of New York, on the southeast and south by the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Pennsylvania and on the southwest by Delaware...

, where he died of stomach cancer
Stomach cancer
Gastric cancer, commonly referred to as stomach cancer, can develop in any part of the stomach and may spread throughout the stomach and to other organs; particularly the esophagus, lungs, lymph nodes, and the liver...

 in 1996, two days shy of his 69th birthday. Chancellor was survived by the former Barbara Upshaw, his second wife. He had two daughters and a son.

The John Chancellor Award
John Chancellor Award
John Chancellor Award for Excellence in Journalism is an annual award of $25,000, selected by a panel of journalists, for quality reporting.Established in 1995, the award was formerly administered by the University of Pennsylvania, and is administered by the Columbia University Graduate School of...

 for Excellence in Journalism was established in 1995 and administered by the Annenberg Public Policy Center
Annenberg Public Policy Center
The Annenberg Public Policy Center is a center for the study of public policy at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. It has offices in Washington, D.C...

 until 2004. It is now awarded by the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism
Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism
The Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism is one of Columbia's graduate and professional schools. It offers three degree programs: Master of Science in journalism , Master of Arts in journalism and a Ph.D. in communications...

.

External links