Award-winning journalist Jerry Nachman, who made his mark on TV and as editor in chief of The New York Post from 1989 to 1992, was found dead in his River Street apartment Tuesday morning. Nachman, 57, the vice president and editor in chief of the cable news network MSNBC, had been fighting cancer for a year.
In January of 2003, Nachman announced on his daily MSNBC talk show, “Nachman,” that he had a malignancy in his gall bladder. The show went off the air that month when Nachman went on medical leave, according to the network.
Nachman moved to Hoboken after he joined MSNBC in 2002. An active member of the United Synagogue of Hoboken, Nachman had been scheduled to serve as kick-off speaker for the congregation’s Winter Brunch Series on Jan. 11. Rabbi Robert Scheinberg said Nachman was forced to cancel that appearance when he was hospitalized earlier this month.
Nachman was released from the hospital two weeks ago after receiving optimistic news about his health, Rabbi Scheinberg said. “[He] had every expectation that he would recover,” and was planning to reschedule his speech at the synagogue for March, Scheinberg said.
“One of the things I admired most about him was his ease in communicating with anyone,” Scheinberg said. “Some people knew who he was – recognized him as a media celebrity. Others had no idea, and Jerry communicated well with everyone.”
An institution in the New York media since the 1970s, Nachman served as news director for WNBC-TV and vice president for news at WCBS-TV before he joined the New York Post as a police reporter and political columnist. He earned a reputation for squaring off with New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani over public access to news and information, sources at MSNBC recalled. Fans of the nationally syndicated “Imus in the Morning” radio show knew Nachman as a regular guest.
“Jerry Nachman will be remembered not only for what he brought to the news-insight, context and a relentless search for the truth, but also for what he brought to the newsroom: integrity, tenacity and a refreshing splash of humor,” said NBC News President Neal Shapiro.
“Jerry was a beloved member of the MSNBC family,” said Erik Sorenson, MSNBC president and general manager. “His passion for news was contagious. All of us will fondly remember Jerry’s many wonderful stories about his colorful years in the news business. We will miss him greatly.”
Nachman also was known for his signature cigar. “He always had an unlit cigar in his mouth, though I never saw him smoke,” Rabbi Scheinberg said.
After stepping down as editor of the New York Post in 1992, Nachman – a native of Brooklyn – headed west, eventually spending several years writing for television and film in California. During the 2000 election season, Nachman worked on “Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher,” earning an Emmy Award as executive producer. He later served as a staff writer for “UC: Undercover,” a NBC television series that aired in 2001, drawing on his experience as a police reporter.
For his work in journalism, Nachman won a Peabody Award and an Edward R. Murrow Award from the Radio-Television News Directors Association. He served twice as a juror for the Pulitzer Prize in journalism.
Nachman faced several ups and downs in his year-long battle with cancer, but he fared well enough to return to MSNBC as a frequent on-air contributor beginning last May. His last assignment was covering the Michael Jackson case, the network reported.
In his decades serving in the trenches of New York journalism, Nachman made real connections with people from many walks of life, Rabbi Scheinberg said – especially police officers. Nachman told Scheinberg of his great admiration for the police.
As plans take shape for the funeral, it is clear that the respect was mutual: The chaplain of an association of Jewish police officers hoped to take part in Nachman’s services.
The funeral was scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 29 at 11:45 a.m. at Riverside Memorial Chapel in Manhattan.