RTDNF's First Amendment Award Honorees Announced

WASHINGTON—Recipients of the Radio Television Digital News Foundation’s 2017 First Amendment Awards have been announced. Of five honorees, three have strong radio connections.

Vice President and General Manager of ABC News Radio Steve Jones will receive the First Amendment Service Award for his management and behind-the-scenes work at the network. Under his leadership, the organization said, ABC News Radio has received more than a dozen Edward R. Murrow Awards, 10 International Radio Festival Awards, five National Headliner Awards and three New York Festivals Awards. Jones joined ABC Radio in 1986 as a writer and editor and previously led ABCNews.com before taking his current leadership role.

Hubbard Broadcasting’s CEO Stanley Hubbard will be awarded the First Amendment Leadership Award for his significant contribution to the protection of the First Amendment and freedom of the press, RTDNF said. Hubbard oversaw the building of the first successful UHF television station in a VHF market and helped create, along with others in Hubbard Broadcasting, the world’s first satellite news gathering organization, Conus Communications.

NPR News’ legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg will take home the RTDNF Lifetime Achievement Award. Totenberg was instrumental in leading NPR News to receiving a Peabody Award for the coverage she anchored of Clarence Thomas’ Supreme Court confirmation hearings and for her exclusive interview with Anita Hill. This RTDNF award will be adding to many accolades she has received including honors like the Joan S. Barone Award for excellence in Washington-based national affairs and public policy reporting and the 1998 Sol Taishoff Award for Excellence in Broadcasting from the National Press Foundation. Totenberg joined NPR in 1975.

Also being honored: Bill Whitaker of CBS News will be honored with the Leonard Zeidenberg First Amendment Award for his contributions to protecting press freedoms through his journalism career as a television broadcaster. Whitaker has worked in local television news with WBTV-TV in Charlotte, VA and KQED-TV in San Francisco, has worked for “CBS Sunday Morning” where he won an Emmy Award for his reports on the collapse of Jim and Tammy Bakker’s television ministry and has taken up posts in several CBS News bureaus across the globe. Today he is a correspondent for CBS’ “60 Minutes.”

Taking the honor for The RTDNF’s First Amendment Award is Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, co-managing editors of Bloomberg Politics and hosts of the news analysis show “With All Due Respect,” which airs on Bloomberg TV. The pair are also the creators of the Showtime weekly political documentary series “The Circus” and have co-authored two New York Times bestsellers “Game Change” and “Double Down.” Halperin has served as editor-at-large and senior political analyst for TIME. Heilemann previously was the national affairs editor for New York magazine and NYMag.com. 

The awards ceremony will be held in March at the Grand Hyatt in Washington.