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Maurice Wolfe "Reese" Schonfeld is an American television journalist who is a co-founder of CNN and the Food Network.

Reese Schonfeld
Maurice Wolfe Schonfeld

1931 (age 87–88)
EducationB.A. Dartmouth College
M.A. and J.D. Columbia University
OccupationMedia executive
Spouse(s)Pat O'Gorman
RelativesNed O'Gorman (brother-in-law)


Early life and educationEdit

Schonfeld grew up in Jewish family in Newark, New Jersey in 1931, the grandson of Yiddish speaking immigrants.[1] He graduated from Weequahic High School.[1] He graduated with a B.A. in political science from Dartmouth College and then received an M.A. and a law degree from Columbia University.[2][1]


He began his career with United Press Movietone News in 1956. Later he became vice president of United Press International Television News. In 1975, he founded the Independent Television News Association, a service that provided independent television stations with pooled news coverage delivered via satellite.[3][4]

The first meeting took place after Ted Turner approached Schonfeld in order to find out about satellites, Schonfeld recalls Turner asking him how much a satellite would cost, upon hearing the sum Turner exclaimed "only a million dollars a year?", after which Turner acquired his first satellite. Approximately a year later he was approached by Ted Turner who wanted to found a 15 hour all news channel.[5] Schonfeld convinced Turner to increase to a 24 hour news channel. Schonfeld calculated it could be done with a staff of approximately 300 if they used an all electronic newsroom and satellites for all transmissions.[5] It would require an initial investment of $15–20 million and several million dollars per month to operate.[5] In 1979, Turner sold his North Carolina station, WRET, to fund the transaction and established its headquarter's in lower-cost, non-union Atlanta.[5] Schonfeld was appointed first president and chief executive of the then-named Cable News Network (CNN).[5] He hired Burt Reinhardt as vice president of the network; Sam Zelman as vice president of news and executive producer; Bill MacPhail as head of sports, Ted Kavanau as director of personal, and Jim Kitchell, former general manager of news at NBC as vice president of production and operations.[5] While at CNN, Schonfeld is credited with originating the 24-hour cable news concept. In 1982, Schonfeld was succeeded as CEO by Ted Turner after a dispute over Schonfeld's firing of Sandi Freeman; and was succeeded as president by CNN's executive vice president, Burt Reinhardt.[6]

After leaving CNN, Schonfeld joined Cablevision Systems in New York, where he developed and oversaw the first 24-hour all-news service on a local cable system, "News Twelve" on Long Island. Schonfeld also produced "People Magazine on TV" for CBS and helped to develop "News Channel 8" for Allbritton Communications Company.

Schonfeld then worked with Time Warner in planning the International Business Channel. In 1993 he designed and implemented the Medical News Network, an interactive TV news service, for Whittle Communications. He also served on the board of Robert Halmi International prior to its sale to Hallmark.

In 1992, Schonfeld began developing Food Network (originally called the TV Food Network), which launched on November 23, 1993. He served as president of the network, which was sold to Belo Broadcasting in 1996 and was later resold to the E.W. Scripps Company. In 1999 Schonfeld sold his interest in the Food Network to Scripps.

He has continued consulting various media projects and occasionally contributes to The Huffington Post.[3]

Personal lifeEdit

He is married to Pat O'Gorman,[7] sister of poet Ned O'Gorman.[8]

He is the author of Me and Ted Against the World, an account of the development and early history of CNN, and "The Global Battle for Cultural Domination", an essay in Developing Cultures, Essays on Cultural Change.


  • Me and Ted Against the World: The Unauthorized Story of the Founding of CNN , Harper Collins, 2001, ISBN 0-06-019746-3, ISBN 978-0-06-019746-9
  • Developing Cultures, Essays on Cultural Change, Routledge, 2006, ISBN 0-415-95282-4, ISBN 978-0-415-95282-8
  • "Shadow of a gunman", Columbia Journalism Review, 1975.


  1. ^ a b c "Judith Weinraub interview of Reese Schonfeld" August 18, 2009
  2. ^ James Verini, Reese's Pieces: Mr. Schonfeld, Forgotten Founder of CNN, Is a Man of Many Projects, The New York Observer, January 28, 2001
  3. ^ a b Biography, The Huffington Post
  4. ^ Patrick Parsons (2008), Blue Skies: A History of Cable Television, page 381. Temple University Press, ISBN 1-59213-287-1, ISBN 978-1-59213-287-4. 804 pages
  5. ^ a b c d e f Barkin, Steve M. (September 16, 2016). American Television News: The Media Marketplace and the Public Interest: The Media Marketplace and the Public Interest. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 9781315290911.
  6. ^ Wiseman, Lauren (2011-05-10). "Burt Reinhardt dies at 91: Newsman helped launch CNN". Washington Post. Retrieved 2011-05-19.
  7. ^ Sugar, Rachel (November 2017). "How Food Network Turned Big-city Chef Culture Into Middle-America Pop Culture". New York Magazine. Pat O’Gorman, executive producer, wife of Reese Schonfeld
  8. ^ Martin, Douglas (March 7, 2014). "Ned O'Gorman, 84, Dies; Poet Founded Innovative Harlem School". The New York Times.

External linksEdit