|John F. Hogan from WCSH in Portland, Maine had spent the summer of 1946 encouraging his fellow radio news editors to form the group, and was elected as the Association's first president at the inaugural convention. The first Board of Directors included John F. Hogan, John Murphy, Jack Shelley (WHO, Des Moines), Jack Krueger (WTMJ, Milwaukee), Tom Eaton (WTIC, Hartford), Bob Mahoney (KWKH, Shreveport), Les Ford (WGR, Buffalo), Soren Munkhof (WOW, Omaha), Ben Chatfield (WMAZ, Macon), Sig Mickelson (WCCO, Minneapolis), Milo Knutson (KFBI, Wichita), and Dave Kessler (WHAM, Rochester). Officers were John F. Hogan, President, Sig Mickelson, First Vice-President, Jack Shelley, Second Vice-President, John Murphy, Treasurer, and Edward Wallace (WTAM, Cleveland) Executive Secretary.|
In 71 years since RTDNA was founded, news technology has changed significantly but the essence of journalism has not.
At its first national convention in Cleveland in 1946, the fledgling organization focused on ethics and training on news fundamentals.
There, the 65 founding members declared "that locally originated news should be gathered, written, and presented by station personnel trained in news writing and evaluation; that this news should be written and presented accurately and without bias, to inform as many as possible, and should remain within the bounds of good taste; that the autonomy of the news director and his news department in the radio station should be recognized; that the news director should be directly responsible only to his journalistic principles and ideals, and to the general manager of the station."
Truth and accuracy, independence and transparency, and accountability remain the guiding principles of our current Code of Ethics.
RTDNA has also stood for press freedom since the very beginning. In its first year, the group spoke against the White Bill, “legislation that would force news broadcasts to identify sources of information.”
|"My career was a typical one of newscaster and reporter to news manager – wearing all hats at the same time. Then came RTNDA, now RTDNA, and it transformed not only my view of the newsroom but also the view of our profession and reinforced how vital journalism remains to the core of our society.” - Ed Esposito, 2008 RTDNA Chair|
In early 2017, RTDNA formed the Voice of the First Amendment Task Force to proactively defend against threats to the First Amendment and news media access in the face of increasing vitriol and to help the public better understand why responsible journalism is essential to their daily lives.
Since founding President John F. Hogan sent his first letters of inquiry to his radio news colleagues, RTDNA has also been a place for news leaders to meet, learn from each other, and grow.
“RTDNA played an incredible role in my career. As a beginning news director, the networking with others in markets large and small, let me know that I was not alone in the challenges I faced. It gave me so many resources for leadership advice, story ideas, etc. As years went by, the association also gave me confidence to spread my wings and begin offering advice to those moving into [News Director] roles,” says Lucy Himstedt, 1998 RTDNA Chair.
Thanks to the first 65 founding members, all RTDNA’s past leaders, and more than 1200 members today, broadcast and, now, too, digital news leaders can access the support of a community of colleagues and stand with a united voice on issues affecting all newsrooms.
Ed Esposito, 2008 RTDNA Chair, says, “While the changes in the business have been fast moving, especially the past 20 years, the central purpose of excellent journalism remains to tell the story of our communities with truth and advocacy for our listeners, viewers and readers. As the platforms grow and the ways we have to tell stories broaden, retaining that mission of accuracy remains the most important component of journalism. Membership in RTDNA helps everyone in a modern newsroom see a bigger picture and the importance of collaboration in moving that mission forward. My career has been enriched by the work of RTDNA and my exposure to the Association and Foundation."
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