Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Honoring the Best in American Journalism

For a profession under siege, journalism was alive and well last night as nearly 1,000 reporters, editors, producers, columnists, bloggers, public relations professionals and other communicators gathered in Washington to recognize and honor American journalism’s very best at the National Press Foundation’s annual awards dinner.

Honorees included 60 Minutes’ decades of incisive coverage (with the Sol Taishoff Award for Excellence in Broadcast Journalism) and Washington Post columnist Colby King’s columns on behalf of the dispossessed (with the Chairman’s Citation). I loved the stories about the late, great 60 Minutes executive producer Don Hewitt. And Mr. King brought down the house when he noted that he and his wife were just glad to get out of the house after a week of being snowbound with their household of two sons, in-laws and four dogs.

The Detroit Free Press’s investigative work and editor Paul Anger’s success in keeping his newspaper relevant and extant in a city in an economic crisis yielded the Benjamin Bradlee Editor of the Year award and an impassioned, touching acceptance speech. The Denver Post’s Mike Keefe (Berryman Award for Editorial Cartoons) reminded the audience that editorial cartoons can be shocking as well as funny.

Cissy Baker, presenter of the Everett McKinley Dirksen awards for distinguished reporting of Congress, preceded the awards with a video of her grandfather (former Senate Minority Leader Dirksen) that is as entertaining and relevant today as it was sixty years ago. (Full disclosure: my grandmother was a huge fan.) The winners were CNN’s Brianna Keilar and AP’s Julie Hirschfield Davis.

Awards for the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting and Bill Kovach of the Committee of Concerned Journalists for their work on journalistic integrity brought a more somber tone to the evening and highlighted the work of these two terrific groups.

For me, my colleagues and friends, the event was a wonderful chance to celebrate great journalists and contribute to the National Press Foundation’s wonderful educational programs and scholarships as we had a great time. PCG has contributed to the National Press Foundation’s annual awards dinner for more than 20 years.

- Potomac Communications Group

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