First Amendment Awards

The First Amendment Awards honor individuals and organizations that exemplify responsible journalism and practice their constitutionally guaranteed duty to seek and report the truth.

About the Awards

The RTDNA Foundation, the charitable arm of the Radio Television Digital News Association, honors those who practice, promote and defend journalism each year at the First Amendment Awards. We celebrate these awards at our First Amendment Awards in March each year in Washington, DC.

Past honorees include local reporters, network anchors, members of the U.S. House of Representatives and multiple U.S. Senators. The awards honor the First Amendment and the bold and brave efforts many take — whether in an instant or throughout their careers — to protect it.

The Foundation works for an America in which the press is able to hold the powerful to account, shine a light on corruption, and act as a catalyst for positive change in local communities without denial of access, undue restriction, or fear of attack. We train and equip local journalists and journalism students to know their rights and seek and report truth ethically — upholding your right to know.

 

More About the 2021 & 2022 Recipients

 

Attend the

First Amendment Awards

The 2023 First Amendment Awards will be held March 2 at the Marriott Marquis Washington DC. 

Learn More & Register to Attend


Past Honorees
Leonard Zeidenberg First Amendment Award

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.

  • 2022: Mary Louise Kelly
  • 2021: Cesar Conde
  • 2020: David Muir
  • 2019: Shepard Smith
  • 2018: Joe Scarborough & Mika Brzezinski
  • 2017: Bill Whitaker
  • 2016: Cami McCormick
  • 2015: Ann Compton
  • 2014: Lester Holt
  • 2013: Candy Crowley
  • 2012: Martha Raddatz
  • 2011: Wolf Blitzer
  • 2010: Brian Williams
  • 2009: Cokie Roberts
  • 2008: Bob Schieffer
  • 2007: Bob Woodruff and Kimberly Dozier
  • 2006: Gwen Ifill
  • 2005: Ed Bradley
  • 2004: Andrea Mitchell
  • 2003: Judy Woodruff
  • 2002: Sam Donaldson
  • 2001: Jim Lehrer
  • 2000: Diane Sawyer
  • 1999: Christiane Amanpour
  • 1998: Mike Wallace
  • 1997: Jane Pauley
  • 1996: Carole Simpson
  • 1995: Walter Cronkite
  • 1994: David Brinkley
  • 1993: John Chancellor
  • 1992: James Snyder 
First Amendment Leadership Award
 
First Amendment Service Award
 
First Amendment Award
This award honors an outstanding individual or organization which champions the First Amendment and press freedoms.
 
  • 2022: “Face the Nation with Margaret Brennan”
  • 2020: “60 Minutes”
  • 2019: CNN
  • 2018: Meet the Press
  • 2017: Mark Halperin and John Heilemann
  • 2016: Jason Rezaian
  • 2015: James Risen
  • 2014: The Associated Press
  • 2013: Twitter
  • 2012: Jim Bohannon
  • 2010: Barbara Cochran & Marcellus Alexander
  • 2009: John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
  • 2008: Richard Wiley

 

First Amendment Clarity Award

This award recognizes a journalist or group of journalists who go to extraordinary lengths to provide meaning and context to complicated news stories or issues of extreme public importance.

  • 2022: Steve Kornacki
  • 2020: Lori Montenegro
  • 2019: NBC News/MSNBC 2019 “Road Warriors

 

First Amendment Defender Award

This award is presented to an individual or organization that takes a public stand in support of press freedom.

  • 2020: Senator Richard Blumenthal
  • 2019: Senator Amy Klobuchar
  • 2018: Congressman Eric Swalwell
  • 2016: Tim Tai

 

Citation of Courage

This award is presented in recognition of distinguished service to journalism and extraordinary courage.

  • 2022: Kevin Nishita
  • 2019: Jamal Khashoggi
  • 2019: Journalists of the Capital Gazette
  • 2015: James Foley
  • 2015: Steven Sotloff

 

Lifetime Achievement Award
  • 2022: Jayne Miller
  • 2020: Steve Andrews
  • 2019: Dale Hansen
  • 2018: Robin Roberts
  • 2017: Nina Totenberg
  • 2016: Tom Brokaw
  • 2015: Bob Simon
  • 2014: Bill Plante
  • 2012: Andy Rooney