Richard Engel, NBC News Chief Foreign Correspondent and recipient of the 2022 John F. Hogan Distinguished Service Award, warned of attacks to democracy during his acceptance speech Thursday at RTDNA22 in Indianapolis.
“Looking at this country and looking at the world in general, I think free speech and democracy, in general, are in danger,” Engel told the audience at the Radio Television Digital News Association's annual conference. “We're in a dangerous time.”
Engel said democracy has been in decline worldwide for 16 years. The rise of social media has created what he described as “censorship by static.”
“There's just so much information, a lot of it false or rumors, that the actual important information gets drowned out,” he said.
Engel encouraged the more than 100 journalists in the room to help fight for the freedom of information and the preservation of democracy.
It is now more important than ever that journalists expose wrongdoing and tell the truth.
“Democracy is going to have to fight to survive,” Engel said.
Named for the founder and first president of RTDNA, the John F. Hogan Distinguished Service Award recognizes an individual's contributions to the journalism profession and freedom of the press.
“Richard is widely regarded as one of America’s leading foreign correspondents for his coverage of wars, revolutions and political transitions around the world for over 20 years,” RTDNA Chair Allison McGinley said at Thursday’s ceremony. “He is recognized for his outstanding reporting on the Syrian civil war, the 2011 revolution in Egypt, the conflict in Libya, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and overall unrest throughout the Arab world.”
Engel concluded his remarks in Indianapolis with encouraging words for the news directors, reporters and students in the audience.
“Anyone who is considering a career in journalism should absolutely do it,” he said. “It's the best job on the planet.”