What a night! It was such an honor to attend and cover this year’s First Amendment Awards at the Ritz Carlton in D.C. We all need a little kick to get inspired after a hard days work, well this was just the trick. Some of the things these journalists said, that I look up to so much, were worth jotting down.
For starters, I had the privilege of simply being in the same room as journalists such as Byron Pitts, Rehema Ellis, Rick Leventhal, Wolf Blitzer, Russ Mitchell, Harvey Nagler, and on and on and on.
The program kicked off with a 9/11 tribute. Journalists were honored for their work on that day. The video montage was truly chilling. And each honoree got to share what they day was like for them. It was crazy to hear their recaps of it, and remember where I was on that day: walking to my freshman biology class in college. I think we’ll all remember where we were that day, but these journalists have an especially memorable experience.
10th Anniversary Tribute to 9/11 Journalists:
-Rick Leventhal, Fox News
-Martha Raddatz, ABC News
-Warren Levinson, AP Radio
-Byron Pitts, CBS News
-Charlie Kaye, CBS Radio
-Jeanne Meserve, CNN
-Rehema Ellis, NBC News
-Melissa Block, NPR
Here are some of my favorite quotes from those honorees:
“On Sep 11th, I was very afraid. But I always also very determined to do my job.” ~Rehema Ellis
“I got my first report on air by using a pay phone on 9/11.” ~ Ellis
“It’s most important that you honor and remember all the people that lost their lives that day.” ~Ellis
“It feels weird to be accepting an award on one of the worst days of my life.” ~Rick Leventhal
“I was doing what reporters do, listening ,taking notes, looking around, i was standing next to 3 NYC police officers. one said look up, and we saw a man and woman standing in an open window. we had hoped they were colleagues helping each other. at that moment, they took hands and jumped.” ~Byron Pitts
“It’s not about celebrity, it’s about the courage to go to dangerous places with eyes wide open to seek the truth,” said Byron Pitts.
“9/11 changed me and I hope it changed you. Its a reminder that what we do matters, the truth matters, and that we have the opportunity everyday to go out and search for that truth.” ~ Pitts
“We really for the first time weren’t just journalists, we were frightened Americans as well.” Martha Raddatz of ABC News.
Rick Leventhal: “To this day I can’t watch the video without getting chills and tearing up.”
Tell me about it. Here’s the 9/11 Tribute video:
Then Wolf Blitzer took the stage to accept RTDNF’s Leonard Zeidenberg First Amendment Award.
What an experience to hear him talk. At one point, Wolf said, “Pre-blackberry days, Wolf found out Saddam had been caught when his beeper went off.” Wow!
“No one appreciates the freedom of the press more than journalists, especially when we fear we may lose that freedom.” ~Wolf
Then a Jeanne Moos package was shown on Wolf, it was hilarious!
Here’s my interview with Wolf Blitzer:
Other journalists that were honored, the beautiful Raycom VP of news, Susana Schuler. She was given the First Amendment Service Award. “It is a powerful time for us to be in this business. We should be enlightened by that, excited and emboldened that we can bring freedom to these democracies,” Schuler said.
The First Amendment Leadership Award was given to David Barrett, the President and CEO of Hearst Television.
Click here to see more interviews from the night.
Here’s last year’s coverage.