The Radio Television Digital News Foundation honored a group of journalists and First Amendment leaders for their commitment to press freedom at the 27th Annual First Amendment Awards this week. The event was held at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, and Chris Matthews of MSNBC served as emcee for the event.
NPR News Legal Affairs Correspondent Nina Totenberg was recognized with the RTDNF Lifetime Achievement Award. NPR received the George Foster Peabody Award for the coverage she anchored of Clarence Thomas’ Supreme Court confirmation hearings and for her interview with Anita Hill in 1991. She has also been honored the George Polk Award, the Sigma Delta Chi Award, the Carr Van Anda Award and the Joan S. Barone Award for excellence in Washington-based national affairs/public policy reporting. Totenberg was named Broadcaster of the Year, honored with the 1998 Sol Taishoff Award for Excellence in Broadcasting from the National Press Foundation and has received the duPont-Columbia University Silver Baton. Before joining NPR in 1975, Totenberg served as Washington editor of New Times Magazine, and was legal affairs correspondent for the National Observer.
Steve Jones of ABC Radio News received the First Amendment Service Award, which honors professionals in local or network news who work in an off-air, management, largely behind-the-scenes capacity. Jones is vice president and general manager of ABC News Radio and is in charge of strategic planning, business development, programming and operations for ABC-branded audio content covering news, entertainment, lifestyle and sports. Under his leadership, ABC News Radio has received more than a dozen Edward R. Murrow Awards, 10 International Radio Festival Awards, five National Headliner Awards and three New York Festivals Awards. Prior to leading ABC News Radio, he led ABCNews.com and joined ABC News Radio in 1986 as a writer and editor covering a range of major news stories.
Hubbard Broadcasting’s Stanley S. Hubbard and the late Stanley E. Hubbard were honored with the First Amendment Leadership Award, which is presented annually to a business or government leader who has made a significant contribution to the protection of the First Amendment and freedom of the press. Stanley S. Hubbard is CEO, president and chairman of Hubbard Broadcasting Inc. He oversaw the building of the first successful UHF television station in a VHF market with others in the Hubbard organization; creating the world’s first satellite news gathering organization: Conus Communications; and establishing United States Satellite Broadcasting. His father, Stanley E. Hubbard, founded the company, which included the first radio station in the country to become completely supported by advertising revenue, the first television station to broadcast newscasts completely in color, one of the first two stations to have weather radar and the first television newsroom in the country to practice investigative reporting. The elder Hubbard was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2014. The two men received the NAB Distinguished Service Award in 1995.
Other honorees include Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, who received the First Amendment Award; and CBS News’ Bill Whitaker, who received the Leonard Zeidenberg First Amendment Award.
The ceremony also included tributes to National Public Radio photographer David Gilkey who was killed in Afghanistan, PBS anchor and managing editor Gwen Ifill, and George Glazer, who chaired the committee that launched RTDNF’s First Amendment Awards in 1990, all of whom passed away in 2016.
RTDNF, a 501(c)3 educational foundation, was created to help RTDNA members embody and uphold the standards of ethical journalism and promote leadership in the newsroom.