Joan Friedenberg, Founding Editor of Online NewsHour, Dies at 53

The NewsHour is saddened to report the death of Joan Friedenberg, the founding editor of the Online NewsHour.

Ms. Friedenberg, 53, is survived by her son Isaac, better known as “Izzy”, and husband, Bloomberg political reporter Jonathan Salant.

Over her 30-year career, Ms. Friedenberg was a member of national and international production teams whose work was recognized by the George Foster Peabody Awards, the New York Festivals, Cannes Film Festival, the Telly Awards and the DVD Association of America (DVDA).

A graduate of Ohio University, she earned a master’s degree in public communication and broadcasting from Boston University before beginning her career in the broadcast and digital world.

Ms. Friedenberg worked for major media organizations including MacNeil/Lehrer Productions, ABC-TV News (London), National Public Radio, McGraw – Hill, Inc. (London & Washington) and SVT-TV2 (Swedish National Television).

In 1995, she became the founding editor of the Online NewsHour – the Web site for The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. Ms Friedenberg guided the new site through its formative years and set an editorial standard that has garnered the site numerous journalistic awards.

“Joan’s enterprising spirit and collegial nature were critical to shaping the creative atmosphere and innovation that has marked the Online NewsHour throughout the years,” Lee Banville, editor of Online NewsHour, said Friday. “She is the one who pointed us in the right direction and gave us the freedom and drive to try and achieve what we have over these past 12 years.”

In 1998, Ms. Friedenberg left the NewsHour’s full-time staff to spend more time with her son and husband. Despite her departure, she remained a critical part of MacNeil/Lehrer’s digital evolution, co-producing the company’s first Web-connected interactive DVD in 2001 through a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

In 2003, she completed a DVDA WebDVD award winning title: Changing the Face of Medicine – Profiles in Achievement for the National Institutes of Health/National Library of Medicine.

Robert MacNeil’s 2005 documentary “Do You Speak American?” brought Ms. Friedenberg back to the NewsHour as the producer of the digital ancillaries, conceiving and producing the companion Web site and Web-connected DVD.