Jim Lehrer and Robert MacNeil - 25th Annual Walter Cronkite Award Winners


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Jim Lehrer and Robert MacNeil - 25th Annual Walter Cronkite Award Winners.
Ed Sharpe - Glendale Daily Planet - 11/21/2008

Photo By Ed Sharpe - Glendale Daily Planet

ASU Cronkite School of Journalism Dean Chris Callahan Introduces ASU President Michael M. Crow, Robert MacNeil and Jim Lehrer During the 25th annual Walter Cronkite Award at the Cronkite Luncheon Friday, Nov. 21, at the Arizona Biltmore Resort and Spa.

(Award luncheon screenshot)

Phoenix AZ - Long-time PBS journalists Jim Lehrer and Robert MacNeil received the 25th annual Walter Cronkite Award at the Cronkite Awards Luncheon, Friday, Nov. 21, at the Arizona Biltmore Resort and Spa, located at 2400 E. Missouri Ave. Over one thousand participants were treated to a great meal, wise words offered by MacNeil and Lehrer, and some great history on this dynamic duo.

Attendees learned about the school's progress and success with it's new facility. Other honors were bestowed at this luncheon to the executive editor of The Arizona Republic, Nicole Carroll, the newest member of the Cronkite Alumni Hall of Fame.

(Award luncheon screenshot)

The executive producer of The NewsHour, Les Crystal, and NewsHour correspondents Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff congratulated the honorees in a video shown after Crow’s introduction.

“Journalism has seen a lot of ups and downs in the last 25 years, but the NewsHour has stayed true to what Jim and Robin envisioned,” Woodruff said. She joked that when she first joined “The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour,” she sometimes forgot which one was which. “I still have trouble telling them apart,” she said, “but I do know that no one else comes close, except Walter Cronkite.”

The PBS duo first teamed up to cover the Senate Watergate hearings in 1973. Two years later, the newscast that would become “The MacNeil/Lehrer Report” was launched and was expanded to “The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour” in 1983. MacNeil stepped down from the daily newscast in 1995 and Lehrer continues to anchor “The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.” They have covered stories such as Watergate, the civil rights movement, the White House and the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Both are prolific authors and have won numerous awards including George Foster Peabody,Fred Friendly First Amendment and Emmy(R) Awards. They were inducted into the Television Academy’s Hall of Fame in 1999.

Unfortunately the passage of time has limited Walter Cronkite's travels and this year he was not present at the awards. Cronkite did send a letter expressing his congratulations. “I am deeply honored that two great journalists, Jim Lehrer and Robert MacNeil, have agreed to accept the 25th Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism,” he stated.

Lehrer and MacNeil are the second joint winners of the Cronkite Award. CBS founder William Paley and former CBS President Frank Stanton received the inaugural award in 1984.

“The Cronkite Award is a kind of Holy Grail for people like us who do television journalism,” Lehrer said after accepting his award. “To be honored in the name of the best—Walter Cronkite—is as good as it gets.”

He shared many wise words relating to what people are interpreting as journalism.

The video of his speech is at

"The bloggers are mostly reactors commentators, not reporters
The talk show hosts are provocateurs commentators, not reporters
The comedians are entertainers commentators, not reporters
The search engines search, but they don't report"

He also stated, "You want to be entertained? Go to the circus for god's sake...don't watch the NEWS HOUR . I never want people to confuse the news with entertainment or.. me with the crowns!"

Lehrer defined his rules of journalism he developed during several years ago at a seminar being held at the Aspen Institute.

Do nothing I cannot defend

Cover, write and present every story with the care I would want if the story were about me

Assume there is at least one other side or version to every story

Assume the viewer is as smart and as caring and as good a person as I am

Assume the same about all people on whom I report

Assume personal lives are a private matter until a legitimate turn in the story absolutely mandates otherwise

Carefully separate opinion and analysis from straight news stories and clearly label everything

Do not use anonymous sources or blind quotes except on rare and monumental occasions.

No one should ever be allowed to attack another anonymously

And finally, finally I am not in the entertainment business

Reflecting back on a job from his youth, a bus caller in a depot in Victoria Texas, Lehrer commented on the power of education stating "If you learn something early, and you learn it well and it is totally irrelevant you will never forget it!"
He then treated us to a bus call.... "Now may I have your attention please....
This is your last call for Continental Trailways 6:40 p.m., Silversides air conditioned Thruliner to San Antonio now leaving from lane one for ..."

(A lengthy list of town names obscured by loud applause from audience)
Connecting in San Antonio for Del Rio, Van Horne El Paso Las Cruces and Phoenix.

"All Aboooooord!
Don't forget your baggage please!"

Robert MacNeil, the other half of the dynamic duo related stories of retirement, how people still confuse their names.

MacNeil stated, "A journalism education is probably today the best general education that an American citizen can get. I know a lot of people thing the law is probably the best basic education, and it is great, but journalism forces people to acquire skills that are in huge demand and very scarce in this society the ability top assimilate large amounts often of complicated information, to distill the essence and what is important from that and reproduce it in simple plain English that ordinary people can understand. Those are skills that businesses are craving to have."

MacNeil, also related the uses and distortions of language with examples form today's pubic relations organizations in addition to historic examples of Orwell's New Speak and thoughts and ideas put forth by the Stalinist regime in the past.

MacNiel went into depth on how terms of "Fair and Balanced" "Investigative Reporting" and "In Depth Reporting" were used , but more importantly how these terms are abused in the field of journalism.
(The video not posted yet )

Previous Cronkite Award recipients include TV journalists Tom Brokaw, Bill Moyers and Jane Pauley; newspaper publishers Al Neuharth, Katharine Graham and Otis Chandler; television executives Ted Turner, Roone Arledge and Don Hewitt; and newspaper journalists Bob Woodward, Helen Thomas and Ben Bradlee.

(Award luncheon screenshot)

Other honors were bestowed at this luncheon to the executive editor of The Arizona Republic, Nicole Carroll, the newest member of the Cronkite Alumni Hall of Fame.

Carroll, who graduated from the Cronkite School in 1991, was named to the Republic’s No. 2 newsroom position earlier this year. At age 40, she is one of the youngest executive editors of a major metropolitan newspaper.

“It’s remarkable how much Nicole Carroll has accomplished in journalism already,” said Cronkite Dean Christopher Callahan. “She’s a rising star in journalism, and we're honored to include her in the school’s Hall of Fame.”

Reflecting on the news campus, ASU President Michael Crow stated during the introduction, “Not only are we dedicating this new facility, but we're recognizing two individuals who, in their entire lives, epitomized what we want to be, what we want to do and the kind of people we want to produce.”

(Award luncheon screenshot)

During the luncheon, Dean Chris Callahan treated us to a short video by Cronkite graduate David Klee that used time-lapse images to show the progress of the new Cronkite School of Journalism building in downtown Phoenix. The screen came alive with color, motion and a growing building!

"This year’s ceremony is especially significant for the Cronkite School,"said Dean Christopher Callahan. This year's luncheon marks the 25th anniversary of the Cronkite Award and concluded a week of activities celebrating the grand opening of the school’s new state-of-the-art journalism building in downtown Phoenix. Callahan emphasized, “Today our new home is the most sophisticated, forward-looking, journalism education complex in the nation,”

After the awards and back at Cronkite School of Journalism...

Later in the day, former lead CNN anchor and Walter Cronkite Professor of Journalism Aaron Brown hosted a conversation with Bob Woodruff of ABC who was injured in Iraq while covering the war. MacNeil and Lehrer also joined the conversation about the future of TV journalism. Approximately 200 students and visitors turned out for the presentation.

(Information and photo sources - meeting notes, Glendale Daily Planet / KKAT-IPTV Video Tape, Glendale Daily Planet still photos, ASU News Releases and memory.)

ED Notes.....
Hear and watch video of Lehrer's speech at:

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If you get a chance to visit the school... it is a sight to behold. The students have first rate equipment and facilities all around to use. - Ah to be young and in school again!