To mark the 15th anniversary of TVNewser, Adweek has honored the 30 Most Impactful TV Newsers of the Past 15 Years, spotlighting the personalities and execs who were instrumental in the industry’s incredible decade-and-a-half evolution. Below, an expanded version of our interview with CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker.
- Job now: President, CNN Worldwide
- Job 15 years ago: President, NBC Entertainment (elevated in 2007 to president and CEO, NBCUniversal)
Adweek: What were you doing 15 years ago (in January 2004)?
Zucker: I was running NBC Entertainment in Los Angeles.
What’s your favorite professional moment of the past 15 years, and why?
It’s impossible to narrow this down to one moment. But what I can say is that I have had the extraordinary opportunity in my career to have a front row seat to history, in so many ways. I think of the election nights of 2000,2008 AND 2016; and the 2016 presidential debates.
I have been to eight Olympics. I was in the room for the last episode of Friends. Across politics, news, sports and entertainment, I have been witness to some pretty amazing things.
What is the biggest way that TV news has changed over the past 15 years?
Cable news has replaced broadcast news as the most relevant source of news on television. With a news cycle that changes, literally, minute by minute, hour by hour, it requires 24 hour coverage to keep up.
Who have you learned the most from in your career? What did they teach you?
[Former NBC Sports chairman] Dick Ebersol. He has taught me so much, and given me terrific advice over the years. Most importantly, he advised me to never stray far from live television. Nothing is more exciting and enduring than the draw of live news and sports.
Which of your competitors do you most admire, and why?
The New York Times and The Washington Post for their relentless willingness to hold those in power accountable.
What do you know now about the business that you didn’t know 15 years ago?
That the internet would, literally, change everything.
What has been your toughest professional challenge during the past 15 years, and how did you overcome it?
Enduring constant accusations from “the leader of the free world” that the work my colleagues at CNN and across the news media do is “fake news.” To the credit of so many journalists around the world, we continue to do our jobs and tell the truth, every day.