RTDNF announces 2017 First Amendment Award honorees

January 4, 2017 11:00

RTDNF has announced the recipients of its 2017 First Amendment Awards.

First Amendment Award: Mark Halperin / John Heilemann
Mark Halperin and John Heilemann served as co-managing editors of Bloomberg Politics and hosts of the news analysis show With All Due Respect, which aired daily at 5pm ET on Bloomberg TV and 6pm ET on MSNBC during the 2016 election cycle. Halperin and Heilemann are also creators, executive producers, and hosts of Showtime's weekly political documentary series The Circus. The duo are the authors of the New York Times bestsellers Game Change and Double Down, the definitive accounts of the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections (respectively). Game Change was later adapted into an HBO movie which won five Emmy Awards, three Golden Globes, and a Peabody Award. Halperin is a regular contributor to NBC's TODAY and Heilemann is a frequent guest on CBS This Morning, and both appear regularly on MSNBC's Morning Joe and PBS's Charlie Rose. Prior to joining Bloomberg, Halperin served as editor-at-large and senior political analyst for TIME, and before that as political director, correspondent and analyst at ABC News. Heilemann was the national affairs editor for New York magazine and NYMag.com, and previously a staff writer for The New Yorker, Wired, and The Economist.
This award honors an outstanding individual or organization which champions the First Amendment and press freedoms.

Leonard Zeidenberg First Amendment Award: Bill Whitaker, CBS News
Bill Whitaker has been a correspondent for CBS News since 1985. He joined 60 Minutes in 2014, after serving in posts for the network including Los Angeles, Tokyo, and Atlanta. He has covered the presidential campaigns of Mitt Romney in 2008, George W. Bush in 2000 and Michael Dukakis in 1988, the funeral of Nelson Mandela, the Fukushima nuclear disaster and the pro-democracy uprising in Tiananmen Square. He also has worked for CBS Sunday Morning and won an Emmy Award for his reports on the collapse of Jim and Tammy Bakker’s television ministry. Previously, Whitaker was a correspondent for WBTV-TV in Charlotte and KQED-TV in San Francisco.
RTDNF presents this award annually to a radio or television journalist or news executive who has made a major contribution to the protection of First Amendment freedoms. It is named for the late Broadcasting & Cable senior correspondent, Leonard Zeidenberg.

First Amendment Service Award: Steve Jones, ABC News Radio
Steve Jones is Vice President and General Manager of ABC News Radio, in charge of strategic planning, business development, programming and operations for ABC-branded audio content covering news, entertainment, lifestyle and sports. Under Jones’ leadership, ABC News Radio has received some of the highest honors in broadcasting including more than a dozen Edward R. Murrow Awards, 10 International Radio Festival Awards, five National Headliner Awards and three New York Festivals Awards. Jones was twice named by the readers of Radio & Records as News Executive of the Year. Prior to leading ABC News Radio, led ABCNews.com and joined ABC News Radio in 1986 as a writer and editor covering a wide range of major news stories, including the Iran-Contra affair and the first Gulf War.
This award honors professionals in local or network news who work in an off-air, management, largely behind-the-scenes capacity.

First Amendment Leadership Award: Stanley S. Hubbard and Stanley E. Hubbard, Hubbard Broadcasting
Stanley S. Hubbard is CEO, President and Chairman of Hubbard Broadcasting, Inc. He joined HBI in 1951. Mr. Hubbard's industry accomplishments include overseeing 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. He is an inductee in the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame, a recipient of the Satellite Broadcasting Communications Association's Arthur C. Clarke Award and the Distinguished Service Award from the National Association of Broadcasters. 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 in the world 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, who died in 1992, was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2014. The two men received the NAB Distinguished Service Award in 1995.
RTDNF presents this award 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.

RTDNF Lifetime Achievement Award: Nina Totenberg
, NPR News
Nina Totenberg is NPR's legal affairs correspondent. NPR received the George Foster Peabody Award for the coverage she anchored of Clarence Thomas' Supreme Court confirmation hearings, and for her exclusive interview with Anita Hill. She has also been honored the George Polk Award, the Sigma Delta Chi Award, the Carr Van Anda Award and the prestigious Joan S. Barone Award for excellence in Washington-based national affairs/public policy reporting. She 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.

“At a time when freedom of the press is facing unprecedented challenges, our honorees stand up for values that are critically important to democracy," said Kathy Walker, Chair of RTDNF.

"Whether they work on camera, behind the microphone or behind the scenes, each of our award winners embodies excellence in our profession," added Mike Cavender, RTDNF Executive Director. "We're proud to recognize them for their hard work and dedication to the principles of the First Amendment."

The awards will be presented at a ceremony at the Grand Hyatt, 1000 H Street NW in Washington, DC on Tuesday, March 14, 2017. The event, which raises funds for RTDNF's journalism scholarship, fellowship and leadership programs, will also include special recognition of three people who passed away in 2016: National Public Radio photographer David Gilkey who was killed in Afghanistan when his convoy came under fire, PBS anchor and managing editor Gwen Ifill, and George Glazer, who chaired the committee that launched RTDNF's First Amendment Awards in 1990. Details about the RTDNF First Amendment Awards and a link to purchase tickets can be found on our event page.

Make your hotel reservation now to recieve the special RTDNA single/double occupancy rate. The special rate will only be available until February 14 or until the room block sells out, whichever comes first.

For questions about sponsorship opportunities for the 2017 First Amendment Awards Dinner, contact RTDNA's Holly Rose.

Your sponsorship support or ticket purchase will go towards programs covering a variety of issues from ethics to financial journalism, newsroom management to international reporting. RTDNF provides practical, “real-world” ways which help students and professionals alike become more proficient at their craft.


For more details, visit our event page. For specific questions about sponsorship opportunities, please contact our industry relations manager Holly Rose.

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. RTDNF offers the electronic news community professional development opportunities, an open forum for the discussion of ethics, assistance with the development of leadership skills, support of First Amendment issues and the exchange of ideas and perspectives from electronic journalists worldwide. The Foundation also provides scholarships and fellowships to aspiring and early-career electronic journalists.


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