Christiane Amanpour’s storied career at CNN has been recognized by Emmys, George Foster Peabody Awards, George Polk Awards and an Edward R. Murrow award, among others. On Monday night, Amanpour received the highest honor bestowed by the Radio Television News Directors Association — the 51st presentation of the Paul White Award, named for the legendary first news director at CBS News.
‘PROFESSIONAL WORK IN PROGRESS’
Amanpour has long been noted as an advocate for quality foreign news reportage, and is the first full-time foreign correspondent to become a Paul White winner. The award was established by the RTNDA in 1956; past recipients include the late Peter Jennings, Walter Cronkite, Murrow, Charles Osgood and Ted Koppel.
Although the award is usually given for lifetime contributions to electronic journalism, CNN International President Jim Walton called Amanpour’s award not so much a lifetime achievement award, but “recognition for professional work in progress.”
In her acceptance remarks, Amanpour touched on the topics of mass appeal, her idea of what the role of television news has become and what it should be.
“I know that adolescents are the main consumers of mass culture. But I hope that we don’t totally surrender the news agenda to them. Our historic role surely is reporting the world, not just enriching our shareholders.”
Commenting on a recent poll that suggested a majority of high school students didn’t know where Iraq was, Amanpour said, “that’s their teachers’ problem; it’s our problem. It means that we’re not doing our job. We have a role to play in enlarging the kind of knowledge that is necessary to survive in today’s world.”
Amanpour is noted for her reporting from areas of conflict and disaster from the ground in Africa, Europe, the Middle East and Asia.
Amanpour reminded the attendees that the job of the media was to “question, question, question. Our job is to be rigorous; it’s basic. We must surely speak the truth always, whether it’s convenient or not. We must never be afraid of power, but we must always hold it accountable. We should never exaggerate the bad; we should just stay with the facts and the truth.”
In introductory comments, RTNDA President Barbara Cochran commented on recent RTNDA freedom of information initiatives, the recent firing of Don Imus from CBS Radio and MSNBC and the Virginia Tech shootings. CNN’s Walton introduced Amanpour at the ceremony.
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