Bert Medley, a former NBC producer and online journalism pioneer, died Tuesday after battling cancer, his former NBC colleague Allison Davis told Journal-isms. He was 69.
"Ever the producer, Bert Medley has planned his funeral and his obit has been pretty much written. I’ve excerpted parts below," Davis wrote by email.
"Bert had a long and impressive career in broadcast journalism. It was cut shorter than he would've liked by cancer. You never saw his face or heard his voice. Producers don't do that. They work behind the scenes coordinating the work of on-air reporters, photographers, video editors and program writers. The stories he produced were creative, informative and memorable. He had an extraordinary eye and was an amazing story teller. And it all began in the basement of a high school friend in suburban Philadelphia. It was the late 50s-early 60s. He attended an integrated school. He told a fellow student, a white boy who was also a Seventh-day Adventist, of his interest in radio. The classmate invited him to his home and showed Bert the low power radio station in his basement. 'He had some pretty good equipment,' Bert recalled. 'There were two nice turntables and a high quality control board.'
"From there, through college days at Temple University he would end up working for NBC in Washington, DC, Cleveland, Atlanta, Tel Aviv, and eventually New York City. There were many turning points in his career as a news producer at NBC. But it was his teaming up with correspondent Bob Dotson from 1975 to 1984 that had the most impact. Their pieces were for the Today Show segment '...in Pursuit of the American Dream.'
"….. He was also a futurist. He saw early on that the future distribution tool for news was not on the television screen or in print, but would live in a much more personal space that would engage the viewer in new and innovative ways. Bert invested in a computer long before it was a household staple. He realized that this device sitting on top of a desk could engage the 'viewer' with words, pictures and sound. He recognized that this rich multi-media experience controlled and guided by the user could have a much greater impact on presenting news content than the passivity of the television screen.
"And he was an integral part of a pioneering team at NBC News bringing original news content to the internet. Even before MSNBC.com, there was NBC [SuperNet] and it was Bert and his vision that helped to lead a small band of digital news pioneers to this new age of journalism.
"'Bert was also instrumental in bringing his television broadcast colleagues to this new frontier,' said Allison Davis, who led the SuperNet team. 'Few understood this digital realm but Bert led the network correspondents by the hand, teaching those who wanted to come aboard to 'think differently.'
"In 1995, there was no book or script. There was no model to follow. NBC was the first broadcaster to go online and arguably the first news organization to produce original journalism on the internet.
"'We made it up as we went along. Bert created content and sweet talked his way into using the servers of the parent company, General Electric, that provided the hosting, storage and distribution of our original NBC News content,' Davis said. Every Friday, Bert worked late to build an online page that chronicled the week's news. There was even a news quiz with a T-shirt prize for the user who was first to answer the questions correctly. It wasn't long before NBC [SuperNet] was absorbed by the partnership between NBC News and Microsoft. Bert was tapped to help direct news coverage at MSNBC.com; his last position at NBC News but certainly not his last job in the digital world.
"His work at NBC was recognized with awards from The Associated Press, Women in Communications, the Catholic Academy and the Epilepsy Foundation of America."
- Chris Ariens, TVNewser: NBC News Digital Pioneer Bert Medley Has Died